Actually, this is about a dog, but the asterisk of the early post also applies...
I have written about the stupidity of medals, especially those misused by royalty and dictators. (Is there is difference?). Well, I never expected that this absurdity could be topped, but the Brits have managed. I stumbled over this headline in today’s Telegraph:
Animal VC for Afghanistan sniffer dog
Army Labrador sniffer dog posthumously awarded the Dickin Medal
for saving "many lives" before she was killed in an ambush
I’m sure that this dog is very happy, because a medal is better than continued life. If the poor thing had lived, I’m sure that a nice bone would have been more welcome than a bit of thread and base metal. The fact that there is even a medal for dogs is suspect, but an equivalent to the equivalent of a medal of honor is even more ridiculous.
Like I wrote, barking...
Do these people take themselves seriously?
From the safety of his London club, some retired government official--of course, an aristocrat--demands that the British government increase the military by 3000 to be stationed in Germany. These would prove British “strength”, scare Russia, and act as a deterrent.
Send troops to Germany to counter Putin, says Lord Dannatt
Former military head calls for 3,000 troops to be retained and based in Germany
to tell Russia the West is not weak
I am certain the Mr. Putin will suffer sleepless nights, concerned about 3000 poorly equipped and trained soldiers (from press reports in British media) parked in Germany. Of course, German bars, taxi drivers, restaurants, and other small businesses will be happy.
Recently, I have been watching Scandal, the television series about scandalous behavior in and around the United States government. Although fiction, I believe such things transpire amongst power-hungry and greedy people. I could have become involved in government intrigue...if I had been married.
As a junior officer in the Army, I was commanded to interview for the position as a general’s aide d’ camp. I had little inkling what the job entailed, but showed up for the interview. One tends to follow orders, especially if they come from a general’s office. This general was not in the normal chain of command, but ensconced in a building in an outlying compound away from the main base. No one knew what he did.
Fortunately, I was not chosen, being told that the lack of a wife was a disadvantage. The aide does the bidding of the general, but the aide’s wife becomes the personal slave of the general’s wife. Being an officer’s wife is bad enough; being the wife of a general’s aide is hell. Aide’s tend to stay close to the generals to which they have been a aide.
Many years later, I read about the general that interviewed me in the news. He was under congressional--perhaps even criminal--investigation for the Iran Contra scandal. If I had become his aide, I would surely have gotten closer to events than I would have wished.
And, that’s one part of the reason why I believe Scandal. People in large organizations do things, regardless of the rules governing their behavior, because they think they are right. This becomes particularly dangerous with the power of government to protect their own...
A headline about drones made me think. What happened to bravery?
Once upon a time, brave men served in the military and fought face-to-face or radar-to-radar. Remember the film, Top Gun? These pilots were the type of warrior young boys and cowardly men admired.
Now, “pilots” sit in containers in Nevada or somewhere equally safe and, more or less, play video games. The problem is that real people die, and one cannot re-set to the beginning. Screams of the wounded or relatives of the dead are unheard and, perhaps, even the anguished faces go unseen. No one seems to care about the aftermath, only the “hit”.
American politicians are so afraid of losing the life of a single soldier in one of their useless (except for profiteers...to include politicians accepting “bribes”) wars, that they do not care about the people dying needlessly. The original target might or might not be legitimate (no trial is ever held), but what has come to be acceptable to US leaders--collateral damage: a euphemism for a murdered human being--is anything by legitimate. This latest form of “combat” is cowardly. Top Gun is now a sissy and no better than a playground bully...but far more deadly.
I wonder if these “pilots” receive flight pay and are awarded medals for “combat” bravery. The military thrives on decorations: just look at the colored thread and base metals plastered on the uniforms of high-ranking officers...even when no wars were/are being fought. And, I’m not talking about members of England’s royal family.
The only danger faced by this new bred of “warrior” is that of being stopped by the police after a boozy night in nearby Las Vegas. I doubt remorse--neither for drinking and driving nor for murdering innocent civilians in a far-off land--ever tarnished a day or night. The gallant cavalryman of days long gone has been replace by someone cavalier.
I have a problem with the overuse/misuse of the word hero, especially by such villainous/cowardly bile producers as Fox News, talk radio agitators, and anyone with a blog that thinks having an opinion makes him/her a genius. Not every soldier serving in a war is a hero: most merely do their duty (some more, some less) and are happy to survive. Unfortunately, the military likes to hand out pieces of colored thread to make themselves feel good about the suffering they cause and have managed to convince quite a few folks of their value.
I “earned” one of the higher combat decorations, but I do not consider myself a hero. I did the job I was sent to do, which included submitting myself to danger. Because little action had been occurring, someone felt the need to “create” some heroes. The citation is a fine piece of fiction, although it does describe an actual event.
I returned to a country that scorned military service and rejected those that served. Men and women in uniform were forced to shoulder the blame for flawed political decisions. Therefore, I am happy that people in the military do receive some recognition from the public, because they are still shouldering burdens of and suffering for flawed political decisions.
Perhaps Fox News considers military service to be heroic, because they do not understand what any kind of service entrails. Vain attempts to give value to boring jobs in a meaningless (except to profiteers) war in which lives of men and women are unnecessarily wasted or destroyed with injuries. Most joined the military, because no other jobs were to be had in a country that shipped most jobs overseas.
Call a spade a spade and apply “hero” only to those that do something out of the ordinary to help comrades. Everyone else is merely doing a job, no matter how dumb or meaningless and no matter of the proximity of danger. That goes with the territory.
A news item caught my attention and surprised me. Supposedly, the US Government has blocked military members’ access to the Guardian, a British newspaper. I am not surprised that the government does such a thing; What surprises is that anyone in the US military would read the Guardian. This requires a certain level of intelligence, an understanding of the world, curiosity, and a sense of humor. These are traits that I found in only a handful of people, when I was in the military, and that was a time of the Draft, which took in college-educated men. Answering a survey of officers on how to improve the enlisted men’s dining experience, I answered “Change the clientele". I cannot imagine that the average IQ has improved to the level than anyone would read the Guardian!
Government contractors are rejoicing; bonuses are assured...
Once again, Ana is one of the most-perceptive writers/reporters in the US (ironically, writing for a UK publication).
This piece reminded me of an incident during my military career. I was present at the beginning of the “All Volunteer Army”, when an influx of female soldiers changed the balance. At the time, none were permitted in “combat” units, so my aviation unit was assigned women for “secretarial” roles. (The irony is that, in the event of war, we would have been in the thick of combat, but that seemed to have been beyond the comprehension of personnel planners sitting in Washington.)
Anyway, we had a number of women at the lowest ranks (no non-commissioned officers). A few were not unattractive and not unintelligent, leading prejudices at the time about woman that would join the Army. Each performed the duties and activities usually associated with the rank, which included PT (what one called exercise in those days) or mopping the floors in tee shirts, which were more revealing that fatigues.
I was in a steady relationship with the young girl (I was also young!) that I ultimately married, so had no interest in female companionship. That said, I did look and did evaluate. Then, as now, I treated women as I treat men: each receives the respect or disdain he or she deserves. Of course, being an officer, I treated enlisted personnel equally. I liked some better than others, which might have led to suspicions of favoritism or being taken advantage of. I did not notice or care.
One Saturday afternoon, I was alone in the office to complete unfinished work (flying hours kept me away from doing paperwork during normal hours). One of the female soldiers was mopping the corridor floors, obviously having been assigned disciplinary work for some minor misdemeanor. She was the most-attractive of the lot assigned to the unit at the time and was known to be less than shy. The day being hot, she worked in a tee shirt. Few, if any, knew about my private life, but everyone knew that I was an officer, a pilot, and drove a red Porsche 911. I would have been a nice “catch” for any woman, especially one at the lowest pay grade in the Army.
This woman appeared at the office door and started a conversation, the content of which is long-forgotten. As the chit chat progressed, she approached my desk, led by a thrusting and admirable chest. At some point, she plopped herself on my lap, placed her arms around my neck, and attempted to kiss me. I turned my head head to avoid her lips: a reflex action. I seem to recall advising her about my relationship and admonishing her to desist from such assaults (I surely did not use that word.) She returned to mopping and I returned to paperwork, neither mentioning this event. That said, I do not know if she did, but I doubt one brags about failure to conquest.
My point is that, as the article states, women are just as guilty of sexual harassment as men. And, women are better able to lure weak men into untenable situations. That does not excuse actual physical assault of a weaker person, but men are not the only sexual predators.
When I was in the Army, we were “taught” to shoot a rifle. We shot one bullet at a time at a target. Badges, which soldiers wear on their uniforms, were awarded according to one’s level of competence. I believe the choices were marksman, sharpshooter, and expert.
One sees video footage of soldiers shooting rifles over a wall or around a corner, firing off countless rounds of ammunition in hope of hitting something. Marksmanship does not appear to be a feature of modern warfare, but ammunition makers must enjoy steady profits. A new badge has probably been added: indiscriminate sprayer.
Perhaps, this explains Americans’ love of large magazines (besides, according to some politicians, their being guaranteed by the 2nd Amendment). No one learns to shoot a single round at a target, paper or living. Accuracy is less important that sound effects.
The below article is not for everyone: only those interested in military history and the military. Since military history of the United States is a major theme of national history, I tend to find such articles to be enlightening. People that only watch the news do not gain a clear understanding of how wars actually unfold. Only afterwards, when forensic writers go over the tea leaves, does the “true story” come out. Of course, one must be able to ignore or see through the hagiography of most biographies of key players. Some are excellent and give a good picture of the man and the times, such as World War 2 generals George Marshall’s or Vinegar Joe Stilwell’s.
One key conclusion from this article is that not only politicians blundered in Iraq and Afghanistan...
Prior to writing novels, the author enjoyed a multifaceted career: from decorated combat aviator to advertising professional to global communications director of a major consumer brand. He has traveled the world and met sports, film and television stars, political leaders, and royalty. He graduated from Middlebury College, is married, lives in Germany, and has two grown children.