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03 November 2009


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RAISER William

Good video. Shows some of the frustration on both sides. Difficult for all concerned, but they seem to be working at it.

I'd be interested to know what percent of US in Afghanistan fit this picture versus rear echelon support. Used to be about 20% but with all the private, non-military support personnel the percentage must be rather higher. Can you provide any breakdown?

I agree with your comments on parachutists, although my experience is with civilian skydiving rather than military airborne. Bit of the same mentality however.


Col., sir:

Do I feel sorry for these dudes. In a foreign land with strange, bizarre alien peoples who do not speak a god**** word of English. & who obviously have no love for 'em (this ain't the German liberation of Sudetenland durin' WWII).

I definitely do not want to be in their boots.

Who the f*** sent these dudes out there in the first place?


And you can't deny that their political leaders have their own charms as well--like feeling entitled to force their way into your living room, putting their muddy boots on your coffee table, and then expecting you to show gratitude for their "help."

N. M. Salamon

Poor guys trying to win heart and minds, but they invade houses with females, a no win situation


Don't weep for these guys. They know their jobs, and are doing them as well as they can, and that job hasn't changed since the first foreign army tried to conquer a bunch of unruly locals. If there had been embeds in the 1st Century you'd probably have seen a bunch of Roman grunts saying the same thing about the natives, and the natives saying the same things about them. Empire has always had its price, and the guys out at the far edge of the frontier are the ones who collect it, and pay it.

The difference is that at the least the Romans intended to actually get some return out of their conquests. These guys are...what? Trying to shoot the 12th Century into the 21st? Make medieval Bactria into Framingham, MA?

What the country owes them is a realistic calculation of costs snd benefits before sending them out to this foreign nowhere. Given the level of our political discourse, I would estimate the chance of that happening as zero.

Patrick Lang


Profound. pl

Medicine Man

I suspect that a realistic calculation of costs and benefits for these military adventures is carried out at some level of government; out of sight of the public of course and subject only to correction by those within the halls of power.

What I find myself wondering about is who's costs and benefits are being considered.

Patrick Lang

Medecine Man

Your "suspicion" implies a belief in government by some body of wise, or at least united people.

That is not the case. US Government is merely a dog fight. pl

John Howley

"US Government is merely a dog fight."

I find this the most difficult notion to keep in my mind. I shy away from it life a sheep from the dog.

I want to believe that buried in the heart of the national security apparatus there is some clandestine council of the wise, making deep, long-term calculations of costs and benefits. (Even though I know I would disagree with them.)

Patrick Lang


Only in the movies. pl

John Minnerath

Airborne! Sir!
We thought we were tougher. We thought we were better.
And we were!
We got called on to do the shitty work, and did it with "elan", griping and grousing all the way.

Al Spafford

Col. Lang, After watching the video my questioning thoughts were: How do we win over the "hearts and minds" of the Afhgans when our own "hearts and minds" are not into it?


John Howley:

IMHO. The sun always shines on TV.

RAISER William

What a sad, but I fear accurate, commentary on our government!

And these guys pay the price, in lives lost nor just in dollars like the rest of us taxpayers.

William R. Cumming

PL! a question a little off the mark of the post? What is the percentage of women in the military that complete the 5 jumps for "Wings"? Just curious?



What about the "wise men" who advised LBJ that Vietnam could not be won?

Isn't that what JH implies?

At least those are the type of "wise men" that I hope (pray) exist.

Medicine Man

I take your point, Col Lang. I'm commenting on mechanisms invisible to me.

I do get the feeling that the most persuasive and influential actors inside the US government are often not basing their cost/benefit calculations on what is good for the bulk of the country.

The last 10 years have actually gone quite well for certain narrow sectors of the populace.


My old unit, in Afghanistan again. I can't tell you how good it feels to see the unit crest up there. I was there in 2003-04 with them. It dosen't seem like the unit's spirit has changed that much in the years that followed after I left. We were all saying the same things when I was there in 03.

The 1/501st are good troop - great soldiers who are rough around the edge, but fight like cornered wolverines. We were certainly not garrison soldiers - the USARAK CG actually told us that he was sending us to Ft. Knox for a three month training cycle b/c "he had a paratrooper battalion who couldn't stop getting into trouble in town".

We had a Brit photojournalist that was embedded with my mortar squad, and he was generally a stand up individual.

Thanks for this, sir.

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