Air conditioning is one luxury that might strike some people as excessive. But it's actually a good way to avoid heat injuries while on duty -- soldiers who can spend at least 4 hours of down time each day with a/c can function at a higher level in high heat.
I got an email from a friend last summer. He was in Iraq and they were giving each other IV fluids just to stay cool in the heat. It was something like 121 degrees. I guess that works if there isn't any A/C. I know there is this tough guy soldier idea and all, but I think A/C for these soldiers makes a lot of sense. They are still pretty tough in my opinion.
I suspect the ones at The New York Times drink quite a few.
Ping for later digesting. Very interesting article.
Salem, you might be interested in this, though it's not exactly pinglist material.
Anyone knows that air conditioning is a necessity in those conditions, if they've ever lived in the desert. You can get by with less expensive "swamp coolers" for dryer climates.
Are they talking about permanent military bases, when they mention fast food and swimming pools? Most permanent bases provide things such as those, as well as arcades and a movie theater.
Anyone who thinks A/C is "excessive", has never had to put up with 115 degree heat.
I'm reminded also of the scene in Battle Of The Bulge when the German tank commander played by Robert Shaw tells an HQ flunky that Germany cannot win by showing him a package that his men took off an American GI: a chocolate birthday cake his mother sent.
His point: "We cannot even get oil from a few miles away to our tanks to fuel them, but the Americans can ship individual chocolate cakes 3,000 miles before they go stale."
Logistics win wars and psychology wins wars.
An American GI enjoying a fresh-brewed latte after he blows one of the bad guys away is an awesome statement of our might.
Arguments against war (any war):
1) Our young men will die fighting an unjust war.
2) Innocent people will die in the line of fire.
3) Can't we all just get along?
4) It's too expensive.
That is all this brilliant whistleblower expose of government waste and corruption amounts to: why we shouldn't be fighting to protect ourselves. Did they ever stop to ask how much it cost to have the World Trade Center demolished? That was an expensive proposition. And what would it cost to have another such disaster inflicted upon us?
Sounds like a completely bogus and fabricated quote to me. In Iraq people don't ask rhetorical questions like that.
"As one Special Forces officer pungently put it to me: "The only function that thousands of people are performing out here is to turn food into [excrement]."
A/C can be very useful, but it is the sheer mass of excess the article is about, the patterns of change have always been the same, when an all male group welcomes their females into it.
As the military approaches the goal of a 50-50 mix it will become a much more comfortable, civilized place with different areas of the budget replacing traditional areas.
Generals in Infantry and other combat arms units will lose influence and budgets to Generals with duties that are in the growth areas.
If you are disappointed at the rate this is happening, remember we are war right now, these type of power shifts accelerate when hostilities end.
Any thoughts on this? ( lol )
It makes me wonder if this is a way to help placate our troops through this time.
On one side, it seems much of this amounts to needless luxury. On the other, it seems a nice way of saying "thanks" to the troops.
It is like heat in that when you need it, you really need it.
And I think heat may be much more deadly than cold in that heat can kill a person much quicker.
IIRC on one large construction job there were the temps in a concrete spillway that were reaching 120-130 Fahrenheit and they kept two full crews and the men were only allowed to work about 20-30 minutes and then had to break for an equal amount of time.
Construction foremen should always keep a very close eye on their crews when the heat is on. One friend lost her young healthy nephew recently. He worked with a roofing crew in Florida and IIRC his heart stopped from screwed up electrolytes caused by drinking too much water.
"... growing numbers of troops live on giant installations complete with Wal-Mart-style post exchanges, movie theaters, swimming pools, gyms, fast-food eateries (Subway, Burger King, Cinnabon) and vast chow halls offering fresh-baked pies and multiple flavors of ice cream. Troops increasingly live in dorm-style quarters (called chews, for containerized housing units) complete with TVs, mini-refrigerators, air conditioning/heating units and other luxuries unimaginable to previous generations of GIs... a fresh-brewed iced latte at a Green Beans coffee shop."
And it seemed fairly straightforward why this is a concern...
"Keeping everything running safely and smoothly eats up a lot of scarce manpower. According to Centcom, there are 20,000 combat service support troops in its area of operations and another 80,000 contracted civilians. (The U.S. has a total of 150,000 troops in Afghanistan and Iraq.) The latter figure no doubt includes many private security guards, but numerous soldiers are also needed to protect all of these logistics lines, and casualties are inevitable."
"Most of our resources arent going to fight terrorists but to maintain a smattering of mini-Americas in the Middle East. As one Special Forces officer pungently put it to me: 'The only function that thousands of people are performing out here is to turn food into [excrement].'"
Speaking ill about anything related to Iraq, at least among conservative circles, is akin to being un-PC in leftist circles. Unfortunately, we need to come to the realization that our armed forces are not perfect. Otherwise, business as usual will result in a long, protracted defeat. There are plenty of folks frustrated and even disillusioned with the organizational irrationality and institutional ineffectiveness of large parts of our military. Max Boot simply had the gall to say what many others are thinking. In my opinion, Max Boot nailed it with this line.
"How to explain this seemingly counterproductive behavior? My theory is that any organization prefers to focus on what it does well. In the case of the Pentagon, thats logistics. Our ability to move supplies is unparalleled in military history. Fighting guerrillas, on the other hand, has never been a mission that has found much favor with the armed forces. So logistics trumps strategy. Which may help explain why we're not having greater success in Iraq and Afghanistan."
That describes very well what happens in Iraq, Afghanistan, Bosnia, and Kosovo, once the initial wave of trigger-pullers comes in and wipes out the conventional threats. We always joked in Bosnia that rather than intelligence driving operations, logistics and safety concerns drove operations and operations drove intelligence (okay, maybe it's not a very good joke if you're not in the military). In Iraq we often laughed at the notions of being "an Army at war" or even more laughably, "a nation at war" since, as we saw it, we were little more than a few scattered battalions at war, while the rest of the military was flat on its butt playing water polo and getting fat in the KBR chow hall.
The notion that "any organization prefers to focus on what it does well" really nails it. As the Army works as feverishly to erect desert paradises as it does to crush the insurgency, field grades and senior NCOs are working hard to recreate the garrison environment in Iraq. Many senior NCOs who were raised in the late 80s and early 90s don't seem to know much more than police calls, uniform inspections, and other menial tasks that have very little relevance to a combat operation. But that is what they do well, so that is what they are more comfortable focusing on.
Those who claim that all of the garrison and stateside type amenities and protocols are necessary for morale should sit down and discuss this with Army and Marine infantrymen who spend their tours in Iraq in a filthy patrol base, burning their crap, not bathing, working much longer hours, and enduring much greater danger and whose units meet or exceed their re-enlistment goals. Many of these men occasionally pass through the large base camps or visit for various reasons and many of them hold tremendous contempt for the other half, for the very reasons that Max Boot points out.