The Ramblings of a Mad Man

Politics: The good(ish) and the bad

On Joining the Infantry

The Battle of As Samawah.

The Battle of As Samawah.

Infantrymen have a pride and arrogance that most Americans don’t understand and don’t like. Even soldiers who aren’t infantrymen don’t understand. The pride doesn’t exist because we have a job that’s physically impressive. It certainly doesn’t exist because it takes a higher level of intelligence to perform our duties. It’s sad and I hate to admit it, but any college student or high school grad can physically do what we do. It’s not THAT demanding and doesn’t take a physical anomaly. Nobody will ever be able to compare us to professional athletes or fitness models. And it doesn’t take a very high IQ to read off serial numbers, pack bags according to a packing list, or know that incoming bullets have the right of way.

The pride of the infantryman comes not from knowing that he’s doing a job that others can’t, but that he’s doing a job that others simply won’t. Many infantrymen haven’t seen a lot of combat. While that may sound ideal to the civilian or non-infantry soldier, it pains the grunt. We signed up to spit in the face of danger. To walk the line between life and death and live to do it again – or not. To come to terms with our own mortality and let others try to take our life instead of yours. We have raised our hands and said, “Take me, America. I am willing to kill for you. I am willing to sacrifice my limbs for you. I will come back to America scarred and disfigured for you. I will be the first to die for you.” [Most of you will hate me anyway.]

That’s why the infantryman carries himself with pride and arrogance. He’s aware that America has lost respect for him. To many he’s a bloodthirsty animal. To others he’s too uneducated and stupid to get a regular job or go to college. Only he knows the truth. While there are few in America who claim to have respect for him, the infantryman returns from war with less fanfare than a first down in a high school football game. Yes, people hang up their “Support Our Troops” ribbons and on occasion thank us for our service. But in their eyes the infantryman can detect pity and shame; not respect. Consider this: How excited would you be to meet the average infantryman? Now compare that with how excited you’d be to meet a famous actor or professional sports player and you will find that you, too, are guilty of placing the wrong people on a pedestal. You wouldn’t be able to tell me how many soldiers died in the war last month, but you’d damn sure be able to tell me if one of the actors from Twilight died.

Yet the infantryman doesn’t complain about that. He continues to do his job; to volunteer his life for you, all while being paid less in four years than Tom Brady makes in one game.

It’s a job most Americans don’t understand, don’t envy, and don’t respect. That is why we have pride for the infantry.

           

On 04 JAN 02, I left the Tampa, FL Military Entrance & Processing Station for Fort Benning, GA in a 15-pack van with 11 other future soldiers. We were headed for the 30th AG Reception Station before being pushed on to the Infantry Training Brigade (ITB). Georgia had received an ice storm on the 3rd and we ended up having to spend another night in the hotel in Tampa before making the drive. It took about 10 hours to make the drive and we arrived after midnight.

 

            Upon arrival, we could see four men in uniform, wearing BDUs and brown Smokey the Bear hats. Under the arc sodium lights outside the building, all we could see is their jaw lines. It was quiet and cold. We got our bags out of the van and once we turned around, the shark attack began. In a tone loud enough to wake the dead in another state and with words that would make your mother blush, we were rushed inside to dump all of our belongings on a table. Our personal effects were searched for contraband. The next thing that we were instructed to do was to shave our [expletive x4] faces. We got our first hair cut shortly thereafter. Fuzzy cue ball is not my favorite coif for cold weather.

 

            30th AG is where you get your Army identity. It’s where your pay check, medical benefits, insurance, and training starts. It was a whirlwind. Let’s skip forward a week. We marched to our basic training company, C Co 2-19th Infantry, “Rock of Chickamaugua”. Our duffle bags road on a truck. Drill Sergeants can be evil bastards. This was where we first experienced unrealistic time hacks to accomplish a task and then swiftly and severely punished when we failed to meet it. The duffle bags were thrown into a haphazard pile behind the trucks. Now, you have less than a minute to find two with your name on them. It’s like trying to find a pair of needles in a stack of needles while the timer on a bomb counts down. You get it now?

 

            I am not going to recount all of basic training. Either you’ve been there and done that or you haven’t. If you haven’t gone yet, I don’t want to ruin the fun. I will make a short list of things that I will never forget:

 

  1. 1.    The Obstacle Course- You and your Battle Buddy charging through the mud and water, exhausted, but feeling completely alive.

 

 

 

  1. 2.    Eagle Tower- Repelling from the top of a tall ass tower. It was pretty awesome and rather terrifying at the same time.

 

 

 

  1. 3.    THE BAYONET- A 25 mile foot march, broken up with squad/platoon attacks missions along the way (one of them involving climbing a clay cliff face to attack a dug in position). It ended with use climbing up Honor Hill, the pathway going up and the top of the hill lit with torches. The hand you a pint of grog before pinning your crossed rifles on the chest.

 

 

 

  1. 4.    The Steak Breakfast the next morning.

 

 

 

  1. 5.    Graduation Day- Standing on that field with your fellow baby grunts, ready to make your way to Airborne School or to your first Duty Station. You can feel the change in you. You stand taller, you are mentally and physically stronger. It was a proud day.

 

The Infantryman's Creed

The Infantryman’s Creed

I am going to start writing about my journey in an effort to help someone prepare for what they are about to face. Things have changed in the last 12 years, but a lot of things haven’t. I hope you learn from these lessons, DR. If you’re willing…

The Unit Patch of ITB.

The Unit Patch of ITB.

To be continued…


Remind me in the morning.

Okay, I’ve had a few snorts of Johnny Walker Black Label and there are social, political, and economic idiocies that need commenting on.

For now, I am going to get some sleep and let the rants marinate. The blasting of politicians, political parties, stupid people, etc needs to happen soon. Plus, it has been a while since I unleashed on the good ol’ wordpress.

Good night, ladies and gents. There will be butthurt in the morning.

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Budget ax reaps chaos across Army

Here we go again.

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Top Army leaders showed little restraint as they blasted the many ways the budget debacle is crippling the service.

And the problems are many.

■ Only two brigades are combat-ready. Even units headed to Afghanistan are qualified for the train-and-advise mission, not combat.

■ Budget cuts will cut the Army to 420,000 troops, and some are calling for a force of 380,000. End strength topped out at 570,000 and is being cut to 490,000.

■ A number of lawmakers and analysts have minimized the need for land forces, an attitude Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno called “naïve” and “dangerous.”

■ Continuing resolutions, combined with the crippling effect of sequestration, have had a negative impact on 485 programs and put each one in jeopardy of being reduced or eliminated.

■ Cuts have delayed reset for 22 aviation units. As a result, 744 aircraft (three years’ worth) are in a holding pattern.

■ Some 139,000 health care appointments were not available in fiscal 2013 as a result of sequestration and the government shutdown.

■Nearly 10 percent of the Army’s civilian medical doctors, nurses and other health workers — or 4,120 civilian health employees — left their jobs in the months that furloughs were threatened or carried out. Of those, 728 were doctors or nurses.

“I wish I could promise that better days lie ahead,” said Army Secretary John McHugh. “Sadly, I just can’t.”

McHugh’s pointed comments opened the Association of the U.S. Army’s annual meeting Oct. 21.

He and several other Army leaders spoke at the AUSA event about the challenges now and what lies ahead.

Here is an overview:

McHugh: Budget woes keep military ‘dysfunctioning’

Troops: How low is too low?

Readiness: Fears of ‘too little, too late’

Training: ‘Not to full capability’

Gear: ‘Tough decisions’ await

Benefits: Slowing compensation, shifting care

Odierno: Land power is still vital

Lance M. Bacon, Michelle Tan, Joe Gould and Paul McLeary contributed to this report.

Latest VideosSEE MORE VIDEOS

From the Army Times


Vets Deliver “Barry-cades” to the White House

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In U.S., Perceived Need for Third Party Reaches New High

Twenty-six percent believe Democratic and Republican parties do adequate job

by Jeffrey M. Jones
This article is part of an ongoing series analyzing how the government shutdown and the debate over raising the debt ceiling are affecting Americans’ views of government, government leaders, political parties, the economy, and the country in general.

PRINCETON, NJ — Amid the government shutdown, 60% of Americans say the Democratic and Republicans parties do such a poor job of representing the American people that a third major party is needed. That is the highest Gallup has measured in the 10-year history of this question. A new low of 26% believe the two major parties adequately represent Americans.

Trend: Perceived Need for a Third Major U.S. Political Party

The results are consistent with Gallup’s finding of more negative opinions of both parties since the shutdown began, including a new low favorable rating for the Republican Party, and Americans’ widespread dissatisfaction with the way the nation is being governed.

The prior highs in perceived need for a third party came in August 2010, shortly before that year’s midterm elections, when Americans were dissatisfied with government and the Tea Party movement was emerging as a political force; and in 2007, when the newly elected Democratic congressional majority was clashing with then-President George W. Bush.

A majority of Americans have typically favored a third party in response to this question. Notably, support has dropped below the majority level in the last two presidential election years in which Gallup asked the question,2012 and 2008. Support for a third party was lowest in 2003, the first year Gallup asked the question. That year, 40% thought the U.S. needed a third party, while 56% believed the Republicans and Democrats were doing an adequate job.

Republicans, Democrats Equally Likely to See Need for Third Party

Republicans (52%) and Democrats (49%) are similar in their perceptions that a third party is needed. In fact, this marks the first time that a majority of either party’s supporters have said a third party is needed.

Trend: Support for a Third Major U.S. Political Party, by Political Party Affiliation

As would be expected, a majority of independents — those who profess no initial allegiance to either party — have always said the U.S. needs a third party. Seventy-one percent currently hold that view, which has been exceeded twice before, in 2007 and 2010.

Implications

Given the inability of the Republican and Democratic parties to agree on the most basic of government functions — passing an annual budget to pay for federal programs — it is perhaps not surprising that the percentage of Americans who believe a third party is needed has never been higher.

However, the desire for a third party is not sufficient to ensure there will be one. Structural factors in the U.S. election system and the parties’ own abilities to adapt to changing public preferences have helped the Republican and Democratic parties to remain the dominant parties in U.S. government for more than 150 years. Third parties that have emerged to challenge their dominance have not been able to sustain any degree of electoral success.

Survey MethodsResults for this Gallup poll are based on telephone interviews conducted Oct. 3-6, 2013, with a random sample of 1,028 adults, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia.

For results based on the total sample of national adults, one can say with 95% confidence that the margin of sampling error is ±4 percentage points.

Interviews are conducted with respondents on landline telephones and cellular phones, with interviews conducted in Spanish for respondents who are primarily Spanish-speaking. Each sample of national adults includes a minimum quota of 50% cellphone respondents and 50% landline respondents, with additional minimum quotas by region. Landline and cell telephone numbers are selected using random-digit-dial methods. Landline respondents are chosen at random within each household on the basis of which member had the most recent birthday.

Samples are weighted to correct for unequal selection probability, nonresponse, and double coverage of landline and cell users in the two sampling frames. They are also weighted to match the national demographics of gender, age, race, Hispanic ethnicity, education, region, population density, and phone status (cellphone only/landline only/both, and cellphone mostly). Demographic weighting targets are based on the March 2012 Current Population Survey figures for the aged 18 and older U.S. population. Phone status targets are based on the July-December 2011 National Health Interview Survey. Population density targets are based on the 2010 census. All reported margins of sampling error include the computed design effects for weighting.

In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.

View methodology, full question results, and trend data.

For more details on Gallup’s polling methodology, visit www.gallup.com.

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Where’s sense of crisis in a 17% government shutdown?

BY BYRON YORK | OCTOBER 5, 2013 AT 1:01 PM

Everyone knows the phrase “government shutdown” doesn’t mean the entire U.S. government is shut down. So in a partial government shutdown, like the one underway at the moment, how much of the government is actually shut down, and how much is not?

One way to measure that is in how much money the government spends. In a conversation Thursday, a Republican member of Congress mentioned that the military pay act, passed by Congress and signed by President Obama at the beginning of the shutdown, is actually a huge percentage of the government’s discretionary spending in any given year. And that is still flowing. So if you took that money, and added it to all the entitlement spending that is unaffected by a shutdown, plus all the areas of spending that are exempted from a shutdown, and added it all together, how much of the federal government’s total spending is still underway even though the government is technically shut down?

I asked a Republican source on the Senate Budget Committee for an estimate. This was the answer: “Based on estimates drawn from CBO and OMB data, 83 percent of government operations will continue. This figure assumes that the government pays amounts due on appropriations obligated before the shutdown ($512 billion), spends $225 billion on exempted military and civilian personnel, pays entitlement benefits for those found eligible before the shutdown (about $2 trillion), and pays interest costs when due ($237 billion). This is about 83 percent of projected 2014 spending of $3.6 trillion.”

So the government shutdown, at least as measured by money spent, is really a 17 percent government shutdown. Perhaps that is why the effects of the shutdown, beyond some of the most visible problems, like at the monuments and memorials on the Washington Mall, don’t seem to have the expected intensity. Seventeen percent of federal expenditures is still a huge amount of money, and the shutdown is affecting many people. But many more who are dependent on federal dollars are still receiving their money, either as salary, transfer payment, or in some other form. Viewed that way, it’s no wonder both Republicans and Democrats appear to believe they can last the shutdown out, at least for a couple of weeks until they try to resolve the debt limit crisis due to arrive October 17.

From The Washington Examiner


The Delusions of Invincibility

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So, the Obamatrons are slinging their own propaganda. Let’s have a little discussion about the above Facebook photo of the day.

She claims to be 34, her job did not offer healthcare benefits, and she was found to have tumors in her body. All righty then, I have a few questions. I’ll give her the benefit of the doubt and say she started working at the age of 18. Why, in the last 16 years of working, have you not bothered to get a medical insurance plan of your own? Do you believe that your employers have to provide you with healthcare for you to have it? A better question is, were you delusional enough to believe that you were invincible and would never need serious medical coverage? How is it possible for you to be this stupid?

Okay, so now she is worshipping her lord and savior, the People’s Dictator, President Obama because she “has healthcare for the first time in her life, after she was diagnosed with a serious illness.” Riddle me this, Batgirl, do you think it is okay that millions of Americans will have to pay more for less service In order to afford a couple hundred thousand people the right to mooch off the system? People who actually planned for all eventualities in life are punished by the People’s Socialist Republic of America because a couple hundred thousand were either too lazy, too stupid or lacked initiative to ensure their own health was covered. Now you depend on the state and millions of Americans who actually bust their asses to make a living and provide for their families.

I am honestly ashamed of my “fellow Americans” at this point in life. My next stop will either be a deserted island or Antarctica to live with the damned penguins. You people are oxygen thieves.

After posting this, a friend of mine who tends to be my political polar opposite had this to say,

It seems a little fake, honestly. How did she buy her insurance on the marketplace, see a specialist, schedule, and receive surgery in just a few days. The time line makes no sense on this picture.

Another excellent point. The failed technical marvel known as the Healthcare Exchanges, by all accounts, except for those espoused by the idiots on Capitol Hill, is a whopping failure. Those in the know in the field of web design say these abortions aren’t even good enough for beta testing. And yet, our little wonder girl up there has accessed, received a plan, scheduled appointments with specialists and receives surgery since 1Oct13. Uh, what alternate universe does she live in? In this dimension, does socialism actually work?

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