Category Archives: recruiting

Recruiting Woes

Friday’s Wall Street Journal had an alarming story on the number of American youth who are simply not qualified to enlist in the services.

As a recruiter in the booming 1990s, the Army (especially in the manufacturing areas of the midwest) was often seen by young people and their parents as an employer of last resort. I can tell you, more than a few were crushed to learn, upon turning to that last resort, that the institution they had held in mild contempt had no use for them when they did come calling.

There is a bare minimum statutory level of qualification set by Congress for enlistment. But each of the services also sets minimums via their own respective regulations. Back in my day, AR601-210 was the regulation concerning active and reserve component Army enlistments. Regulations can, and often are changed.

For instance, AR601-210 might change as often as monthly, and certainly every quarter there would be an update. Also, the regulation would reserve to the Commanding General of US Army Recruiting Command authority to set and change certain minimum characteristics for eligibility, such as how many people with a GED in lieu of a high school diploma would be permitted to enlist.

You may recall that back in 2006, at the height of the fighting in Iraq, the Army was struggling to make the enlistment numbers it needed. And not surprisingly, it lowered the standards of who it would allow in. Not terribly much lower. Just a little bit. Certainly nothing like McNamara’s Army of 100,000. But still, the erosion in standards was seen by many to lead to large numbers of troops lacking the discipline and qualities that earlier enlistees had possessed.

With the end of major US presence in Iraq, the coming withdrawal of troops in Afghanistan, and the downsizing of the military due to budget constraints, the numbers of recruits needed annually for all the services has gone down considerably. And as a result, not surprisingly, the services have reacted by raising the standards for enlistment.

One problem is, the very same high quality people that the Army and other services want to enlist are the very same people that employers and colleges want so badly.  Another is that the services have standards in place that the competition simply doesn’t have to concern itself with.  Very few insurance salesmen have to display an ability to perform sit-ups, push-ups, and a two-mile run in a given time. 

Not only are the services struggling to find people that have a willingness or propensity to join. They’re struggling to find people that can meet the big three qualification standards- 1. Mental, 2. Physical, and 3. Moral.

The WSJ article has the painful statistic:

The military services don’t keep figures on how many people they turn away. But the Defense Department estimates 71% of the roughly 34 million 17- to 24-year-olds in the U.S. would fail to qualify to enlist in the military if they tried, a figure that doesn’t even include those turned away for tattoos or other cosmetic issues. Meanwhile, only about 1% of youths are both “eligible and inclined to have a conversation with us” about military service, according to Major Gen. Allen Batschelet, commanding general of U.S. Army Recruiting Command.

The biggest problem is, of course, fat people. We as a nation are just a heck of a lot fatter than we used to be.  I’m not one for encouraging the federal government (or anyone else) to impose corrections upon this, but the fact is, a lot of kids are fat.  We simply have to recognize that. Some folks who are highly motivated to enlist can and will lose sufficient weight to enlist. Most will not.

A further cause for concern:

About a quarter of high-school graduates also can’t pass the Armed Forces Qualification Test, which measures math and reading skills, Gen. Youngman said. “They aren’t educationally qualified to join the military in any capacity, not just the high-tech jobs,” he said.

In most of the schools I recruited in, if a student had a reasonable GPA in class, I was confident they would score well on the ASVAB test. I was appalled to learn that in other schools, those schools with virtually all African American enrollment, that even students with excellent grade point averages were quite likely to be either functionally illiterate, or only marginally literate. There’s nothing like telling someone who recently graduated high school with honors that they couldn’t even score above the 32nd percentile on their second try on a test.

As for the moral qualification for enlistment, I have a couple thoughts, though not necessarily supported by more than my gut instinct. First, when you discuss waivers for past criminal activity by an enlistment prospect, one thing you’ll often here is the large numbers of felony waivers granted. Well, back in 2007 or so, there were a disturbingly large number. But that isn’t as cut and dried as you might think. First, large numbers of waivers for possession of small amounts of marijuana. In some states, that’s either a misdemeanor or even a simple citation. So while our prospect and the jurisdiction in which he was arrested might not think it a major issue, for the Army, any drug related offense is automatically considered to be a felony offense. As such, our prospect would be required to apply for a waiver for enlistment. That waiver is by no means automatic. The recruiting battalion commander, upon review of the waiver request (with quite a bit of supporting documentation) might grant it, or request a personal interview with the prospect to judge for himself the prospect’s level of motivation and sincerity, or request further evidence (such as character references from respected members of the community) or he might simply deny the waiver.

Another thing regarding moral issues. Our notional prospect cannot enlist with any form of all of civil restraint. That is, he cannot have so much as an outstanding parking ticket. He may not be on parole, probation, conditional release, diversion or any of the other terms used to describe someone who is in any way still subject to actions by the police or courts. And the should a court offer any version of “join the Army or go to jail” in any way,shape or form, it is an automatic, non-waiverable, non-appealable permanent bar to enlistment. You’re done. Through. Put a fork in ‘em.  The point being that any prospect who has ever had any interaction with the police has to be free and clear of any debt to society.

A last bit on moral issues, that is, prospects for enlistment who have been arrested. Again, just a gut feeling, personal impression. Many police forces now aggressively pursue charges for very minor issues that in years past would have seen little more than either a dressing down, or a call to the parents. That’s not just because police like to do that. Part of it is known as “holding paper.” That is, when a serial offender finally commits a serious crime, the police don’t want him in front of a judge pleading for leniency because he is a first time offender. If the police can point to a paper trail of multiple, escalating offenses, the judge is far more likely to impose a realistic sentence. Now, most of our young potential prospects, having been cited for disturbing the peace, or what have you, will straighten up and stay on the straight and narrow. And as long as they are not further entangled in the court system, that’s OK as far as the Army is concerned. But it doesn’t take many incidents for a young man or woman to find themselves so enmeshed in the criminal court system that they are unqualified for enlistment.

Let me revisit this for a moment: “Meanwhile, only about 1% of youths are both “eligible and inclined to have a conversation with us” about military service.”

You’ve heard the US military described as an All Volunteer Force ever since the draft was ended. Recruiters know better. It’s an All-Recruited Force.  With only a minority of the population qualified, and and even smaller segment of that pool even willing to consider military service, recruiters from all branches have to work extraordinarily hard to find the manpower to field our nation’s great services.

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Women can be Marine Infantry Officers. All You Have to do is Change the Standards.

Feminist advocate Ellen Haring, a Reserve Army Colonel, wrote a piece over at War on the Rocks about how to fix why females cannot pass the US Marine Corps Infantry Officers’ Course.   Not surprisingly, Haring’s assertions ring hollow and partisan to any Marine ground combat Officer, especially one with the Infantry MOS.

…why are the physical standards different for officers and enlisted infantry Marines?…
Officers and enlisted infantrymen perform the same physical tasks in their units and during combat operations.  The discriminator between officer and enlisted has always been education, not physical differences.

What Haring writes is utter nonsense.  The answer, which should be glaringly evident to someone with the rank of Colonel, is that Marine Officers must not just “perform the same physical tasks”, but to LEAD, and lead by physical example.  A great deal of a young Officer’s credibility with his Marines comes from the display of physical courage and personal fitness, which includes strength, stamina, and endurance.  A Marine Infantry Officer must be prepared to lead despite extreme physical fatigue, and retain the ability to make alert and sound decisions.  The lives of his platoon or company depend upon it.  That Haring ignores such a fundamental of leadership in a combat MOS is not surprising, and I don’t think for a minute it is unintentional.

Haring also cites the op-ed by 2nd Lt Santangelo, in which the Lieutenant asserts that expectations, and not physical limitations, are the reasons for failure among the female Officers.  Nowhere does Haring mention the viewpoint of Captain Kate Petronio, whose extensive experience serving beside Marine Infantry units would seem to have a bit more validity than to be ignored.

Haring’s focus is, of course, the Combat Endurance Test, a grueling physical event that has been a part of the Infantry Officers’ Course for decades.  This is where 13 of the 14 female Officers have failed, and it is administered on the first day of training.  (The 14th female was dropped with a stress fracture in the first few days of training.)  Haring calls the Combat Endurance Test an “initiation”, rather than an occupational qualification, and to an extent that is correct.  In order to lead Infantry Marines, an Officer must successfully complete that test.  So, of course, since it is a stumbling block for 93% (at least) of the female Officers, Haring takes aim at that event.  And here is the crux of her argument:

Do initiation rites have a place in our military?  There will be those who argue that they absolutely have a place in developing the esprit de corps that is vital to the Marine Corps and those arguments have merit.  Certainly the Marines have built their reputation on being tough, trained professionals whose motto Semper Fidelis (always faithful) embodies their total dedication to this country and to the Corps. But does an initiation rite that effectively filters out half the American population (all women) do the Marine Corps justice?

It is that last line which says it all.  Haring apparently has issue with how the Marine Corps trains its Infantry Officers, as such training doesn’t do the Corps “justice”.   Huh.  Here I was thinking the Corps had a rather successful training program for what it rightly considers the backbone of the service, the Marine Infantry Officer.  Haring parenthetically mentions that such training “filters out” women, as if that part of her argument is an afterthought.  In reality, her entire effort centers around that very premise.  While she goes on to say that she is not advocating elimination of the Combat Endurance Test, she does advocate advancing female Officers through IOC without passing the test, as she claims male officers have done, and allow females to repeat the test (one assumes, indefinitely), until they pass.  (I question the accuracy of her assertions that males have been given unlimited chances to pass the Combat Endurance Test, and know of several males who have washed from IOC because they could not do so.)

This will have the effect of making passing of the Combat Endurance Test a graduation requirement rather than an entry requirement.  Of course, once a female Officer has had all that time and money invested in her training, the argument will then be to waive passing of the Combat Endurance Test altogether.  Because it would be foolish and wasteful to put a female Officer through all that training and not have her graduate.  Which will be precisely the goal of feminist activists like Haring.  Female Marine Infantry Officers, no matter how unqualified or ill-equipped to be such.  Because, well, the cause is more important.

So, despite her assertions that she does not advocate changing the standards in order to have female Marine Officers become Infantry Officers, she is advocating just that, and she knows it.  Like so many in the “girl power” feminism ranks, she simply lacks the integrity to say so.

h/t to Info Dissem

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William S. Lind’s Grim Assessment of the US Officer Corps

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From The American Conservative.   Bill Lind, one of the authors of Fourth Generation Warfare, is often a bit of a scratchy contrarian who is firmly convinced of his own infallibility when it comes to military theory.   Lind has never served in uniform, and often his condescending pontification and admonitions of “You’re doing it all wrong!” to US military thinkers causes his views to be dismissed out of hand.  But Lind is very smart, and often had nuggets of insight that deserve our consideration.  Here are a few from his TAC article:

Even junior officers inhabit a world where they hear only endless, hyperbolic praise of “the world’s greatest military ever.” They feed this swill to each other and expect it from everyone else. If they don’t get it, they become angry. Senior officers’ bubbles, created by vast, sycophantic staffs, rival Xerxes’s court. Woe betide the ignorant courtier who tells the god-king something he doesn’t want to hear.

And:

What defines a professional—historically there were only three professions, law, medicine, and theology—is that he has read, studied, and knows the literature of his field. The vast majority of our officers read no serious military history or theory.

While my personal experience has been that Marine Officers tend to read and discuss military history, it could be that I gravitate toward those who do.  I will admit that I am chagrined at the numbers of Officers of all services who have seemingly no interest in doing so.

Lind also identifies what he calls “structural failings”:

The first, and possibly the worst, is an officer corps vastly too large for its organization—now augmented by an ant-army of contractors, most of whom are retired officers. A German Panzer division in World War II had about 21 officers in its headquarters. Our division headquarters are cities. Every briefing—and there are many, the American military loves briefings because they convey the illusion of content without offering any—is attended by rank-upon-rank of horse-holders and flower-strewers, all officers.

Command tours are too short to accomplish anything, usually about 18 months, because behind each commander is a long line of fellow officers eagerly awaiting their lick at the ice-cream cone… Decisions are committee-consensus, lowest common denominator, which Boyd warned is usually the worst of all possible alternatives. Nothing can be changed or reformed because of the vast number of players defending their “rice bowls.” The only measurable product is entropy.

The second and third structural failings are related because both work to undermine moral courage and character, which the Prussian army defined as “eagerness to make decisions and take responsibility.” They are the “up or out” promotion system and “all or nothing” vesting for retirement at 20 years. “Up or out” means an officer must constantly curry favor for promotion because if he is not steadily promoted he must leave the service. “All or nothing” says that if “up or out” pushes him out before he has served 20 years, he leaves with no pension. (Most American officers are married with children.)

It is not difficult to see how these… structural failings in the officer corps morally emasculate our officers and all too often turn them, as they rise in rank and near the magic 20 years, into ass-kissing conformists.

I cannot help but notice the truth that rings from much of what Lind asserts.  I have made some of those very same assertions myself on more than a few occasions.  Give the article a read.  What does the gang here think?  Is Lind on target?  If so, how do we fix it?  Can it be fixed?

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Going Hollow: The Hagel Preview of the FY2015 Defense Budget

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Anthony Cordesman, the Arleigh Burke Chair at CSIS, provides a very cogent summary of the weakness of our Defense Department leadership and its inability or unwillingness to discuss the 2015 DoD budget meaningfully.

At the simplest level of budgetary planning, the Secretary’s budget statements ignore the fact that the Congressional Budget Office projects that the Department’s failure to manage the real-world crises in personnel, modernization, and readiness costs will have as negative an overall budget impact over time as Sequestration will. Ignoring the Department’s long history of undercosting its budget, its cost overruns, and the resulting cuts in forces, modernization, and readiness means one more year of failing to cope with reality.  Presenting an unaffordable plan is as bad as failing to budget enough money.

Cordesman gets to the real meat of our failure of strategic (dare I say “national strategic”?) thinking, as well.

He talks about cuts in personnel, equipment, and force strength in case-specific terms, but does not address readiness and does not address any plan or provide any serious details as to what the United States is seeking in in terms of changes in its alliances and partnerships,  and its specific goals in force levels, deployments, modernization, personnel, and readiness.

He holds nothing back in his contempt for the process of the Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR), either.

Worse, we are going to leave these issues to be addressed in the future by another mindless waste of time like the Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR). All the past QDRs have been set so far in the future to be practical or relevant. Each successive QDR has proved to be one more colostomy bag after another of half-digested concepts and vague strategic priorities filled with noise and futility and signifying nothing.

Cordesman saves his best for last, however.

Like all of his recent predecessors, Secretary Hagel has failed dismally to show the U.S. has any real plans for the future and to provide any meaningful sense of direction and real justification for defense spending. The best that can be said of his speech on the FY2015 defense budget is that U.S. strategy and forces will go hollow in a kinder and gentler manner than simply enforcing sequestration.

We do need to avoid cutting our forces, military capabilities, and defense spending to the levels called for in sequestration. But this is no substitute for the total lack of any clear goals for the future, for showing that the Department of Defense has serious plans to shape a viable mix of alliances and partnerships, force levels, deployments, modernization, personnel, and readiness over the coming Future Year Defense Plan.

I don’t always agree with Cordesman’s assertions, but he is just about always a thoughtful if provocative commenter on Defense and National Security issues, and his analysis of SECDEF Hagel’s remarks are spot-on.  We are headed for a hollow force, despite its smaller size, as many of us have feared all along.  This, despite all the promises and admonitions of this Administration and our Pentagon leadership.  Go have a read.

 

 

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The ASVAB and the AFQT

The Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery is used to determine a potential recruit’s capacity to absorb the technical training involved in any particular military occupation. Four components of the battery of tests are used to determine basic knowledge, and eligibility for enlistment. This portion is known as the Armed Forces Qualification Test, or AFQT.

See how well you do.

I missed one. But in my defense, it was an algebra question. There’s not a lot of algebra in the Infantry.

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A Lesson in Leadership

…from Dilbert, no less.

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I am all finished “not building that” for today.  Merriest of Christmases to all, and safe travels wherever you are headed.  God bless.

H/t DB!

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Duffel Blog: Marine Corps Marathon Spawns Less-Successful Marine Corps Spelling Bee

*SNORT!*

“Spelling bees are basically memory exercises,” Marino explained on the last day of the tournament. “We’re all familiar with Kim’s Games, used by our Recon and Sniper Marines, and this is basically the same thing. I thought it would be a great chance to get the Corps some publicity in an area that doesn’t involve physical activity, and show people that we have strong minds in addition to healthy bodies.”

He then watched Staff Sgt. Alex Drost, an avid runner and weight-lifter who has competed in several amateur mixed-martial arts tournaments, struggling on-stage to spell the word “radio.”

While Headquarters Marine Corps initially joked that all the spelling bee would prove is that Marines can’t spell “defeat,” they grew more alarmed when it also proved that Marines can’t spell “Marines.” After several days they ordered the contest prematurely shut down.

Sempar FI!

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Pritzker Military Library historical recruiting poster display

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The Pritzker Military Library has a display of original US Military recruiting posters. Above is one of my favorites.

Foreign Policy Magazine has a list of the top on display there if you can’t come see them in Chicago.

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Errata Sheet for SecArmy Guidance on Extremist Organizations

As most of us who’ve served in the military know, official documents, policy statements, training and technical manuals will often contain mistakes, errors, and omissions.  It is natural enough, as nobody is perfect, and review of every last thing produced is impossible.  In those instances where such mistakes, errors, and omissions are found, an errata sheet is issued, either with distribution of the original document or during the next quarterly update.

Here is the errata sheet for Army Secretary McHugh’s memorandum of 18 October.

McHugh Errata

There, Secretary McHugh, fixed it for ya.  Since you apparently couldn’t bring yourself to type or speak the words you should have.   You would boil in oil any Company or Platoon Commander who had made such public statements offensive to women, Islam, gays, minorities, or any other protected victim group du jour, and I suspect you wouldn’t have waited several weeks to say something on the matter.  No, in such an instance, I believe you would have been tripping over yourself to apologize on behalf of the Army, in front of a microphone, and would have initiated any number of new “training initiatives” that political pressure dictated.

A memorandum?  Extremely weak soup, Secretary McHugh.  Why don’t you stand in front of a microphone and apologize to those of Christian faith?  And then to the groups your training identified as “extremist”?  With a reassurance to your soldiers that their rights of free expression to donate to and affiliate with those organizations will be fiercely protected in keeping with the Constitution you and your Officers were sworn to support and defend?

And if you can’t manage that, why don’t you find the door, and put yourself on the other side of it?  And take Dempsey with you.

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Is the Navy full?

The economy’s recovery is doing so well, thousands upon thousands of people have simply given up looking for work.

One effect this has had is that many people that previously would have given little or no thought to enlistment have turned to the services in hopes of finding a job, and skills to put to work in the civilian market later.

But the services are also going through severe budget challenges. That means they need to recruit fewer people. Further, there are a lot of people that kinda sorta feel like leaving the service, but take a look at the economy and decide a job they don’t really like is better than no job at all. That is, retention is unusually high, considering the operational tempo all the services have been sustaining.

So where just a few short years ago, the Army(and to a lesser extent, the other services as well)  would issue waivers for enlistment for nominal disqualifications, primarily medical and legal, but also for education, today those waivers are highly unlikely to be granted.

Over the last ten years, Navy Recruiting’s enlisted active duty mission has averaged roughly 37 thousand per year; that is a decrease of more than 13 thousand per year needed during the previous ten years. There are many reasons for the decrease in those numbers, but basically, it comes down to how many openings are expected to be available after the Navy’s retention rates are considered. The Navy’s projected enlisted active duty end-strength for FY 2014 is 265,878 (a number by the way that has been in general decline over the past 20+ years) – the Navy’s retention remains high, and I do not expect the recruiting goals for 2014 to exceed the average, as a matter of fact, I would not be surprised if 2014 sees the lowest recruiting mission the Navy has ever had; low 30K? I am speculating, of course, but based on the comments and emails I have received that describe what seems to be an ever increasing number of folks being sent home from MEPS with the distinction, “Qualified, No Jobs” – it sounds like a pretty large chunk of FY-14’s openings have already been filled. (hyperlinks in original-XBrad)

The plural of anecdote isn’t data, but we know our friend AggieSprite’s eldest has been trying for months to enlist, and the service is in no great rush to sign her up.

Now, you’d think this would make recruiter’s lives easier. Actually… no. What happens for the recruiter is that monthly missions remain roughly the same, but the quality requirements each potential enlistee must meet are raised.  It’s almost like the various accession commands insist the recruiter’s pain level must be maintained at a certain level.

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Department of Deference

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Exhibit A:  Considered pornographic and the cause of aberrant behavior among service men.   Banned from the AAFES magazine racks.

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Exhibit B:  An event which service members were encouraged to attend.   Wearing of the uniform, connoting official sponsorship, is authorized.

The feminists and LBGT activists are in charge of this Nation’s defenses.  Not Chuck Hagel.  Not the Joint Chiefs.  All they do is enforce thoughtcrime punishments.

I am sure our allies and our adversaries are impressed.

I said so then, and was told such would never come to pass.  But it bears repeating.   Differing beliefs, the very thing we fight for, will not be tolerated by the People’s Defense Commissariat.

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From the Duffel Blog: Lance Corporal’s Course Honor Graduate Receives ‘Honorary NJP’

USMC Professional Military Education has gotten a tremendous boost.   Why?   Tradition.

“I had junior Marines coming to me asking what an oil check was and why getting married would solve all their financial problems,” Mitchell toldThe Duffel Blog. “That’s when I realized that these Lance Corporal traditions were in danger of being lost. It’s up to us to teach a whole new generation what it means to be a Lance Criminal.”

The SgtMaj must be very proud of the results.

He then leaned out the window at his office and called over to a group of Marines in the course hanging out at the smoke pit.

“Hey Marines, don’t forget to cut the grass sometime today!”

“Fuck you, old man!” they shouted back.  “Come down here and make us!”

“I had to get busted down to PFC twice before I could speak that authoritatively,” Mitchell said with a big smile,

And there is a practical side to the course, it isn’t all about customs and traditions:

“Every Marine knows the joke about using your [Honor, Courage, Commitment] cards to break into someone’s car or barracks room,” said Dalten. “Here at Lance Corporals Course we teach our Marines to be more innovative. How about placing it on the table at a restaurant like you’re paying so you can sneak out without arousing suspicion? Or stealing your friend’s, then leaving it and his fingerprints behind at a crime scene?”

“A fellow Marine was at a bar getting kind of loud and rowdy, bothering these local girls,” said Lance Corporal Terry Westerberg from Tuscon, Ariz. “But using the training I receive at Lance Corporals Course, I took out my card and showed it to him. While he was distracted by reading it, I smashed a beer bottle across his face. With him unconscious, it was much easier for me to start bothering those girls.”

It brings a tear to my eye to know that these Marines are every bit the Lance Coconuts their fathers were.  Ooh-Rah, Sgt Maj.   Keep up the good work.  As the saying goes, if you are gonna get “bad time”, you damned sure should have a good time!

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Name That Plane

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Which, I know the basic type, but could actually use some help on the sub-type.

Pic courtesy of The Rebel Pin-up.

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The “Wrong” Suspects in Boston

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Well, Boston police did not produce the category of suspect that most of the mainstream media and former advisors to the Obama Administration almost immediately speculated, indeed, fervently HOPED it would be.   The suspects are not white ‘Tea Party’ anti-government types, who picked the city, Boston, and the day of the attack, Patriots’ Day, for the symbolic value of violent opposition to President Obama.

Instead, the suspects were two young brothers from Chechnya, an overwhelmingly Sunni Islamic region.  Though motive is certainly difficult to determine for sure immediately, the chances are now ZILCH that it was anti-Obama Tea Party villain or villains who decided to slaughter innocent Americans.   Despite myriad commentary that virtually campaigned for a conservative white male to be the target.

CNN’s Peter Bergen speculated that the terrorists were “right-wing extremists”.

Charles Pierce, of Esquire, gave us this bit of brilliance:

I would caution folks jumping to conclusions about foreign terrorism to remember that this is the official Patriots Day holiday in Massachusetts, celebrating the Battles at Lexington and Concord, and that the actual date (April 19) was of some significance to, among other people, Tim McVeigh, because he fancied himself a waterer of the tree of liberty and the like.

There was, of course, David Sirota at Salon.com, who expresses his strong preference for white terrorists, while somehow missing the point about radical Islam actually close to BEING an existential threat.

Michael Moore was, of course, certain of the guilt of the Tea Party he despises so much.

And, also, this from taxpayer-funded NPR‘s Dina Temple-Raston:

“April is a big month for anti-government and right-wing individuals,” she said.

“There’s the Columbine anniversary. There’s Hitler’s birthday. There’s the Oklahoma City bombing. The assault on the Branch Davidian compound in Waco,” she added.

There are a host of other instances of such wishful speculation, on the talking head panels, the liberal blogosphere, and on “twiddah” from the not-so-cerebral far Left.

The most telling, disturbingly so, was the commentary from former Obama adviser David Axelrod.  He posited rather confidently what would be President Obama’s thought process and first instinct.   While he couches it in softer language, his message is clear.  President Obama first looks to his political opponents as the possible terrorists, and opposition to him and his policies as the motive.  Axelrod is eminently correct in his assertion.

This, despite the fact that those who believe in the Constitution and oppose his explosive government growth, intrusion into our privacy, curtailing of our freedoms, and raiding of our wallets have never violated the law, threatened to violate the law, or considered indiscriminate murder of innocent people to be the way to get their points across.  Unlike Bill Ayers and Bernadine Dohrn, who still do.

The Obama Administration has to be bitterly disappointed.  The terrorists weren’t “home grown” white men who fit Janet Napolitano’s description of Veterans who believe in smaller government, the Second Amendment, and God.     They did not give him a reason to further restrict the rights of the law-abiding, or to disparage those who disagree with him as unreasonable and dangerous criminals.

In fact, these terrorists, who they are and what they did, both at the Marathon on Monday and last evening, put paid to the falsehood that infringing on the Constitutional liberties of the law-abiding with draconian gun laws will prevent someone intent on evil from perpetrating that evil.   Fresh off the stinging rebuke of his anti-gun platform by a Democratic Senate, President Obama cannot even leverage his beholden press to further demonize non-liberal white males as terrorists and murderers who pose a threat to our freedoms.

However, there should be considerable alarm at the willingness, or rather enthusiasm, with which the majority of our media and government officials ruminate, without proof or precedent, on the collective culpability of an entire segment of American citizens.   They simply rub their hands and wait for a chance to bring the full weight of government authority and public opinion (to the extent that they influence the latter) to bear against those they disagree with.

Well, maybe next time.

In the meantime, I will cling to my guns and my religion and the Constitution.   But I have no illusions about the desire of my own government to target me, because of my race and my beliefs, and label me an enemy.    After this fiasco in Boston, none of us should.   All they need are the “right suspects”.

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General Barry McCaffrey: Lauds “Marines’ Aversion to BS” On Women in Infantry

Soldiers with the US Army's 6-4 Cavalry walk down a mountain path during a patrol near Combat Outpost Keating in eastern Afghanistan

Time Magazine (of all places) carries General McCaffrey’s missive.  Well worth the read (which contains a link to Marine General Newbold’s superb “Seven Myths about ‘Women in Combat’”).

The argument for women at rifle battalion team level is unsound. Makes as much sense as mandating women on all-male professional contact sports teams.

Life in a rifle company is still incredibly brutal, filthy, requires enormous physical energy and upper body strength, and calls for a spirit of personal violence. There is zero personal privacy. Bodily functions take place in close proximity.

Troops are constantly injured from carrying heavy loads and crashing down hills in the dark. They dig like moles to stay alive.

Infantry units live like wild animals during periods of extended combat. Mostly it is a business of self-selected young men.  Most of these combat soldiers end up in these units because they actually want to fight.

One might think there would be some additional recognition of such opinions expressed by long-time practitioners of the craft of ground combat.   But alas.   Objective analysis gives way to activism and some other “isms” all too often.

As General Newbold rightly asserts:

Pity the truthful leader who attempts to hold to standards based on realistic combat factors, and tells truth to power. Most won’t, and the others won’t survive.

(H/T to Battleland)

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Filed under Afghanistan, army, Artillery, girls, guns, history, infantry, iraq, marines, navy, obama, Politics, recruiting, SIR!, stupid, Uncategorized, veterans, war

Women in Combat Arms: The Perspective of a Warrior

The Late General Robert H. Barrow, former Commandant of the Marine Corps, winner of the Navy Cross, Distinguished Service Cross, Silver Star, Bronze Star, Veteran of three wars, World War II, Korea, and Vietnam, speaks on the notion of women in ground combat units.  Thirteen and a half minutes.  (The last three are dark screen.) Listen to it all.

Those who would dismiss General Barrow as hidebound, sexist, closed-minded, or any other of the various derogatory labels that tend to be employed by the feminists who push such agendas should feel a tinge of shame.  If they are capable of such, which I doubt.

Those who comprise the Joint Chiefs of Staff, particularly CJCS Dempsey, CSA Ordierno, and Marine Commandant Amos, should be ashamed of themselves.  They must know deep down that what a man like General Barrow asserts is the brutal truth.  Yet they have nodded their heads in enthusiastic agreement with their political masters as a sop to the feminists and progressives who despise our military and everything it stands for.  Gentlemen, you must do some serious soul searching.    You KNOW that General Barrow speaks an unvarnished truth honed by 41 years of wartime service and leadership of men in some of the most bitter combat of the 20th Century.   Are your current assignments and your careers so much more important than the lives of those you will unnecessarily risk to implement this corrosive policy?

The Commandant’s assertion that “we will maintain our high standards while ensuring maximum success for every Marine” smacks of the dishonesty of the “everyone gets a trophy” Left.   War, we damned well should know, knows no such considerations.   If we didn’t have such morally and intellectually bankrupt leadership spending so much time and money painting the Potemkin Village instead of training to win our nation’s wars, we would not find ourselves in the current fix.

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Filed under Afghanistan, Air Force, armor, army, Artillery, girls, history, infantry, iraq, marines, navy, obama, Politics, recruiting, SIR!, stupid, Uncategorized, war

Transformation

The only kind that matters.  The rest is fluff.

The ‘eathen in ‘is blindness bows down to wood an’ stone;

‘E don’t obey no orders unless they is ‘is own;

‘E keeps ‘is side-arms awful: ‘e leaves ‘em all about,

An’ then comes up the Regiment an’ pokes the ‘eathen out.

 

All along o’ dirtiness, all along o’ mess,

All along o’ doin’ things rather-more-or-less,

All along of abby-nay, kul, an’ hazar-ho,

Mind you keep your rifle an’ yourself jus’ so!

 

The young recruit is ‘aughty — ‘e draf’s from Gawd knows where;

They bid ‘im show ‘is stockin’s an’ lay ‘is mattress square;

‘E calls it bloomin’ nonsense — ‘e doesn’t know, no more –

An’ then up comes ‘is Company an’kicks’im round the floor!

 

The young recruit is ‘ammered — ‘e takes it very hard;

‘E ‘angs ‘is ‘ead an’ mutters — ‘e sulks about the yard;

‘E talks o’ “cruel tyrants” which ‘e’ll swing for by-an’-by,

An’ the others ‘ears an’ mocks ‘im, an’ the boy goes orf to cry.

 

The young recruit is silly — ‘e thinks o’ suicide.

‘E’s lost ‘is gutter-devil; ‘e ‘asn’t got ‘is pride;

But day by day they kicks ‘im, which ‘elps ‘im on a bit,

Till ‘e finds ‘isself one mornin’ with a full an’ proper kit.

 

Gettin’ clear o’ dirtiness, gettin’ done with mess,

Gettin’ shut o’ doin’ things rather-more-or-less;

Not so fond of abby-nay, kul, nor hazar-ho,

Learns to keep  ‘is ripe an “isself jus’so!

 

The young recruit is ‘appy — ‘e throws a chest to suit;

You see ‘im grow mustaches; you ‘ear ‘im slap’ is boot.

‘E learns to drop the “bloodies” from every word ‘e slings,

An ‘e shows an ‘ealthy brisket when ‘e strips for bars an’ rings.

 

The cruel-tyrant-sergeants they watch ‘im ‘arf a year;

They watch ‘im with ‘is comrades, they watch ‘im with ‘is beer;

They watch ‘im with the women at the regimental dance,

And the cruel-tyrant-sergeants send ‘is name along for “Lance.”

 

An’ now ‘e’s ‘arf o’ nothin’, an’ all a private yet,

‘Is room they up an’ rags ‘im to see what they will get.

They rags ‘im low an’ cunnin’, each dirty trick they can,

But ‘e learns to sweat ‘is temper an ‘e learns to sweat ‘is man.

 

An’, last, a Colour-Sergeant, as such to be obeyed,

‘E schools ‘is men at cricket, ‘e tells ‘em on parade,

They sees ‘im quick an ‘andy, uncommon set an’ smart,

An’ so ‘e talks to orficers which ‘ave the Core at ‘eart.

 

‘E learns to do ‘is watchin’ without it showin’ plain;

‘E learns to save a dummy, an’ shove ‘im straight again;

‘E learns to check a ranker that’s buyin’ leave to shirk;

An ‘e learns to make men like ‘im so they’ll learn to like their work.

 

An’ when it comes to marchin’ he’ll see their socks are right,

An’ when it comes: to action ‘e shows ‘em how to sight.

‘E knows their ways of thinkin’ and just what’s in their mind;

‘E knows when they are takin’ on an’ when they’ve fell be’ind.

 

‘E knows each talkin’ corp’ral that leads a squad astray;

‘E feels ‘is innards ‘eavin’, ‘is bowels givin’ way;

‘E sees the blue-white faces all tryin ‘ard to grin,

An ‘e stands an’ waits an’ suffers till it’s time to cap’em in.

 

An’ now the hugly bullets come peckin’ through the dust,

An’ no one wants to face ‘em, but every beggar must;

So, like a man in irons, which isn’t glad to go,

They moves ‘em off by companies uncommon stiff an’ slow.

 

Of all ‘is five years’ schoolin’ they don’t remember much

Excep’ the not retreatin’, the step an’ keepin’ touch.

It looks like teachin’ wasted when they duck an’ spread an ‘op –

But if ‘e ‘adn’t learned ‘em they’d be all about the shop.

 

An’ now it’s “‘Oo goes backward?” an’ now it’s “‘Oo comes on?”

And now it’s “Get the doolies,” an’ now the Captain’s gone;

An’ now it’s bloody murder, but all the while they ‘ear

‘Is voice, the same as barrick-drill, a-shepherdin’ the rear.

 

‘E’s just as sick as they are, ‘is ‘eart is like to split,

But ‘e works ‘em, works ‘em, works ‘em till he feels them take the bit;

The rest is ‘oldin’ steady till the watchful bugles play,

An ‘e lifts ‘em, lifts ‘em, lifts ‘em through the charge that wins the day!

 

The ‘eathen in ‘is blindness bows down to wood an’ stone –

‘E don’t obey no orders unless they is ‘is own.

The ‘eathen in ‘is blindness must end where ‘e began

But the backbone of the Army is the Non-commissioned Man!

 

Keep away from dirtiness — keep away from mess,

Don’t get into doin’ things rather-more-or-less!

Let’s ha’ done with abby-nay, kul, and hazar-ho;

Mind you keep your rifle an’ yourself jus’ so!


-Rudyard Kipling, "The 'Eathen"

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Filed under Afghanistan, army, history, infantry, iraq, marines, recruiting, Uncategorized, war

Red Sox Great and U.S. Navy Aviator Johnny Pesky, Dead at 92

Red Sox elder statesman Johnny Pesky, the line-drive hitting shortstop of the great Boston teams of the late 1940s, died this afternoon at age 92.  Born John Michael Paveskovich, Pesky set a rookie record with 205 hits in 1942, even while beginning his Navy aviation training in Turner’s Falls, Massachusetts.   Following his rookie season, Pesky spent three years in the United States Navy as a Naval Aviator during World War II.  He returned to the Red Sox to play shortstop on the 1946 Pennant winning team.

Pesky, second from right, with (l to r) Joe Coleman, Johnny Sain, Ted Williams, and Buddy Gremp

Like so many athletes of his era, including the most famous of them, Pesky served his country during wartime.  Among his classmates in his Turner’s Falls training was teammate Ted Williams, A’s pitching ace Joe Coleman, and Braves right-hander Johnny Sain.

Ted Williams, left, and Pesky on 1943 Navy Baseball Team

While neither Pesky nor Williams would see combat in World War II, Ted would fly F9F Panthers for the Marine Corps in Korea, alongside John Glenn, and belly-landed once due to damage from Chinese ground fire.

Johnny Pesky hit .307 for his major league career, which lasted an abbreviated ten seasons.  1942, 1946-1954.  He served as a coach, manager, broadcaster, and ambassador for the Boston Red Sox in his 73-year baseball career.  However, he was as proud of his time in the United States Navy as of any other career accomplishment.  In an era where athletes peddle their wares ostentatiously to the highest bidder and complain about the “humiliation” of a $12.5 million salary, Johnny Pesky will be missed.   As will Feller, Williams, Spahn, Musial, Doby, and all those who are leaving us along with their less-famous comrades who served our country and our cause.
Cross-posted at USNI

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Should the Military Enlist Deaf Soldiers?

Keith Nolan, presenting at a TED conference event, makes a strong case for it.

(video under the fold because of autoplay issues)

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Uniformly Stupid? Part 2

See Part 1 here.

I’m on the road, so I’ll be doing some “best of” posts. Right now, this is the most searched for post. 

While most people in the Army spend just about all their time in a working uniform like the ACU, there are occasions when something a little more formal is needed.

Since the late 1950s the standard Army Service and Dress uniform for most soldiers has been the Army Green Uniform. Folks in the Army almost universally refer to it as “Class A’s”.

When the uniform jacket is removed, the Army Green Uniform can be worn as the Class B uniform, suitable for most office environment jobs. When I served as a recruiter, most days we wore the Class B.

No, that's not me...

No, that's not me...

The problem with the Army Green Uniform was simple. It was ugly as sin in church. There was an alternative, however, one with a great history dating back practically to the first days of the Army. The Dress Blue Uniform.

Female Officer and Male Enlisted Service Dress Blues

Female Officer and Male Enlisted Service Dress Blues

There’s a reason why the trousers are a different shade blue from the coat. Back in the days of the Old West, when cavalry troopers wore the blue uniform as there work clothes, they would routinely remove their coat, roll it up and carry it strapped to the back of the saddle. The trousers faded from the sunlight and wear and tear, but the coat didn’t. Hence the difference.

Service Dress Blues were always an optional item for enlisted personnel. You could buy them, but you didn’t have to. Since they cost a lot of money and there were relatively few occasions to wear them, most junior folks did without.

Back in 2005 or so, the Chief of Staff of the Army made the decision to do away with the Army Green Uniform and modify the Blue uniform to replace it.The new variations are shown below.

The Army Blue Uniform

The Army Blue Uniform

Personally, I wish they had done this about 25 years ago. I always hated the Green Uniform, and as soon as I could, bought a set of Blues. And anytime I had a chance to wear them, I did. One fairly common occasion was the “Dining Out”. A Dining Out is when a unit, typically a battalion, has a formal banquet, with spouses and sweethearts invited*. This is a social occasion run on military lines- the colors are presented, the chaplain gives the invocation, there are a couple of (usually brief) speeches, and maybe some awards and recognitions. Then there is usually some dancing. The important thing is, your best girl gets a chance to put on her best dress and go out to be seen. Chicks dig that.  Since a lot of guys didn’t own Dress Blues, they made do with the Army Green Uniform with a white shirt and a bow tie.

Your author, center, in Dress Blues, flanked by two friends in Class A's.

Your author, center, in Dress Blues, flanked by two friends in Class A's.

Incredibly, I managed to save this picture, but lost the picture of my date. You’ll have to take my word for it that she was stunning. Really. The two guys in the photo were great friends and fellow warriors, but neither was all that attractive….

*You could invite your spouse, or your sweetheart, but NOT your spouse and your sweetheart…

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Filed under 120mm, Afghanistan, anthropology, armor, army, ARMY TRAINING, Around the web, ducks, gaza, Georgia, girls, guns, history, infantry, Iran, iraq, islam, israel, Load Heat, marines, navy, obama, ossettia, Personal, planes, Politics, recruiting, SIR!, space, stolen valor, stupid, Uncategorized, war

My blood pressure just spiked

There’s stupid, then there’s Assistant Professor grade stupid:

Amy Hagopian, assistant professor with the University of Washington’s Department of Global Health concludes military recruiters are a “threat to the health of adolescents.”

Hagopian says, “A review of the medical literature suggests military service is associated with disproportionately poor health for young people. The youngest recruits have the greatest number of mental disorders in the U.S. military, including alcohol abuse, anxiety syndromes, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.”

First, the good professor has  bias that should discount any and all research she may have conducted on this matter. If you read the article, this has been a hobby horse of hers for some time.

Second, her argument that research shows high rates of poor health is pure crap. The average recruit is in far better physical condition that the age group population as a whole. As to mental health issues, there’s a reason why service members show higher rates of the listed disorders. It’s because the military is the only organization that screens for these disorders, diagnoses them, and treats them.  Universities and employers don’t care. They may have some services that offer walk in services, but they don’t take a look at every person.  How hard do you think I’d have to look to find a couple of undiagnosed cases of alcohol abuse in a campus fraternity/sorority system? Or anxiety disorders around mid-terms? Or how about PTSD in victims of on campus sexual assault who never reported their attack? I’ve seen women burst into tears for being yelled at in the office. Is that not anxiety disorder? But they were not diagnosed. I’ve seen men that couldn’t take the pressure of sales jobs that suddenly “fell ill.” Isn’t that PTSD?

I spent a long time as a recruiter. And I spent a goodly portion of that time working to gain access to high schools. Some schools welcomed me with open arms. Others treated me like a leper. But I’ll tell you this, the Recruiting Command response to this putrid slur was spot on:

“We show America’s youth what the core values of the Army are – physical fitness, moral fitness, the kinds of behaviors that we expect of our soldiers,” Smith says. “To say these men and women are somehow equivalent to a sex predator is just wrong headed.”

As a recruiter, I wasn’t selling a tangible product, I was selling an ideal. No one wants to work for an organization that doesn’t stand for something. Most of us want our lives to have meaning, and for many of us, that means belonging to something larger than ourselves. When I worked in high schools, my job was to represent the best that the Army stood for. I didn’t do that by “grooming” kids. I did that by living the values that I held dear.

As a practical matter, when recruiting high school seniors, unlike a predator striving to separate a child from his parents, as a recruiter, I instead worked very hard to get access to the parents. You know the hardest part of recruiting a high school senior? Selling mom on the idea. And you may take my word for it, no bullshit friendly approach is going to convince Momma that you have their son or daughter’s best interests at heart. You either mean it or you don’t.

So, Amy Hagopian, why don’t you quit with the smears and rigged “research” and find something useful to do with your life?

Thanks to Ghengis at Ace’s, where some of the comments are great as well.

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Filed under army, Politics, recruiting, stupid

Not bad, Air Force, not bad…

Finally, the Air Force does something besides building golf course that just happens to have runways nearby…

H/T: WNU

Heh: from the comments-

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Ejericito de Colombia celebrates 200 years

Columbia is a nation at war. They’ve fought a brutal civil war against FARC and other rebel groups for 30 years. And while we gringos may have a tendency to look down on our little brown brothers, that’s a serious mistake. Operating on a shoestring budget and with a pool of recruits that lack the level of education of ours, they’ve managed to field a very professional army.

And much like our Army, they use television ads for recruiting purposes:

Cheerfully stolen from John Boq at The Castle. Go ahead and click the link. You need to see the other video.

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Filed under army, ARMY TRAINING, recruiting

Coasties go SPECWAR

We don’t show a lot of love for the Coast Guard here. We feel kinda bad about that, because if we hadn’t joined the Army, we would have joined the Coasties. They may not be the most gung-ho uniformed service around, but they sure are among the hardest working.

Back in 2008, the Coasties and the Navy signed an agreement to allow small numbers of Coast Guardsmen to attend the Navy’s SEAL training, and integrate with the active SEAL teams. After a period of time, they would return to the Coast Guard and share their knowledge and skills.

Today, that agreement has begun to bear fruit.

Two Coast Guard officers became the first in their service to earn SEAL tridents Friday, according to Navy and Coast Guard officials. Another three are in the pipeline.

They will be the first uniformed personnel ever assigned to an operational SEAL team while a member of another branch of the U.S. Armed Forces.

Why is this important? In today’s COIN world, we’ve seen a lot of military operations move to a more law-enforcement orientation in terms of their operations overseas. And the Coast Guard is the nation’s primary maritime law-enforcement agency. This partnership can potentially give the SEALs greater flexibility in countering piracy and terrorism, and allow  them to learn from the Coasties some of the less kinetic skills they have in their repertoire. And it will give the Coasties a better understanding of the challenges facing special operators as well as learning tactics, techniques and procedures used on the special warfare side.

H/T: War News Updates, whose incredible output make being a blogger much, much easier.

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Filed under ARMY TRAINING, Around the web, ducks, guns, navy, recruiting

Honor the fallen.

We often hear about casualties in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. But so often, all we hear are the numbers. Some use those numbers as a political cudgel to beat their opponents over the head. Others simply, honestly bemoan the loss of so much life. Still others seem to feel our lost warriors are hapless victims, fed into the maw by an uncaring nation for ends either vague or nefarious.

But the fact is each and every fallen hero is a warrior by choice. When I was  a recruiter, I learned there were many reasons why people joined the service. In those peaceful days, very few people joined expressly for the pride of serving their country. But even then, it was almost always an important influence on their decision to enlist.

We older folks often bemoan the youth of today. But many young people instinctively feel a need to be a part of something larger than just themselves. They grasp, at some level, that they have been blessed with opportunities that many throughout history could not even imagine. People find different ways of paying this debt. Many join churches, or social service organizations. Others become politically active. And some join the military.

Every unit in the Army tries to inculcate this sense of being part of a larger picture. Morale and esprit de corps are the terms used. But it basically an acknowledgement by the members of a unit that, while they as individuals have great worth to the unit, they also have an obligation to that unit.

We’ve come to know quite a few people during our time on the blogosphere, and through them, learn of others. AW1 Tim brings us the story of a family friend, Andrew Small. Nearly four years ago, Andrew was faced with a terrible situation. His squad was pinned down by Taliban fire during an ambush. Casualties were mounting, and his squad looked like it would be wiped out. Private First Class Andrew Small, B Co., 1st Bn., 32nd IN, 10th Mountain Div., exposed himself to enemy fire in order to lay suppressive fires upon the Taliban. His display of conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity helped save the lives of his fellow soldiers. And cost him his own.

Go visit AW1 Tim for the story of this remarkable, but in many ways, oh so typical, young soldier. And learn how, in spite of leaving our ranks, he has inspired others.

And as you go about your day, or lay your head to rest tonight, please remember to say a prayer for Andrew Small, his family and loved ones, and all those American Soldiers who strive so hard today and every day to make the world a little better.

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Filed under Afghanistan, army, ARMY TRAINING, history, infantry, Personal, recruiting, war