Where are they? Will someone tell me? Will someone please point them out? Apparently most of the true war-fighters are in the company grade ranks and below in the Active Army, and very few are in the Battalion or higher ranks.
You may be asking yourself “Bouhammer, what are you saying? Are you bashing the military leadership?”
I am calling it like I see it, and it is up to the reader to define what it looks like to them. If you listened to last week’s You Served Radio show hosted by CJ and myself, then you heard us talking to Scott Kesterson. Scott talked about some of the things he saw over the last three months while embedded as a reporter in the southeast of Afghanistan along the Pakistan border. There are a couple of points Scott brought up that I want to highlight which are very disturbing.
The first is his statement (and Scott had told me about this while he was in country) of a Brigade Command Sergeant Major using high dollar and high-tech surveillance drones to watch his troops in the field on combat operations to see if they were out of uniform. If this is true, and I must say I could see this happening, then it is a gross violation of the Army’s Fraud, Waste and Abuse policy. More importantly it would be a terrible testament to how mis-guided some of the leadership has become. It is one thing for your soldiers to be protected and disciplined, it is something else to use the highly sought after and expensive commodity of unmanned aerial drones in order to spot uniform violations while the soldiers are in combat.
Another point Scott brought up was the Rules of Engagement (ROE) he saw when he was there. The 0% collateral damage ( a result of Hamid Karzai running his mouth about how we save his country and make it stable and keep him in power….ohh I hate that tool) standard that is placed on the soldiers in Afghanistan. It is an impossible goal and causes soldiers and leaders to second guess themselves. When soldiers second guess themselves when it is time to pull the trigger, then our soldiers die. The end result of all the training we do in the army over our entire career is focused on that moment that if you ever have to make a life and death decision on pulling a trigger. When that split-second comes, the training and automatic reflexes kick in and each soldier is responsible for their actions, or in-actions. If we are trained how to spot, positively ID and eliminate an enemy, then that is all there is needed to it. The last thing we want soldiers to do is pause for even a second and re-evaluate the situation to decide if they are going to get in trouble or not. There are some other parts of the ROE that Scott discussed which are also very disturbing, but I won’t repeat them here. I encourage you to go give it a listen yourself.
I asked Scott about the differences between this 3 month tour and his first 12 month tour when he and I were both in Afghanistan. In my frequent conversations with him, I knew this one was tough on him. When asked why, his response was simply he had never seen the American fighting man so demoralized when it comes to the mission and the leadership.
Take a look at the case of 1SG Scott and Cpt Hill and the charges they were brought under. I blogged about this and in fact have been in personal contact with Cpt Hill and I can tell you that their situation is another great example of the higher leadership failing them and their soldiers.
So where are the true warfighters? Where are the field grade officers that put the mission before their own OER? Where are the senior NCOs that have not forgotten what it is like to be a grunt in the trenches? I know they are out there as I run into them every once in a while. If you are reading this blog and you think you are a real warfighter that puts men and mission first above your own self-interest, then I would like to hear from you in the comments. If you are offended by my blog, then you are probably one of the people I am talking about and I invite you to comment also. Maybe we can chat and I can remind you of the term selfless service and putting the Army’s needs in front of your own.
OER-Officer Evaluation Report