A Beginner’s Guide to Combat

There was no one like ‘im, ‘Orse or Foot,
Nor any o the Guns I knew;
An’ because it was so, why, o course ‘e went an’ died,
Which is just what the best men do.

Rudyard Kipling

This guide is intended solely for personal use. It is not meant to cure, diagnose or treat war or its symptoms. If you are new to Afghanistan or Iraq and have experienced more than one fire fight, ambush, rocket, mortar, IED, tank or ground attack in the past three days, see your sergeant, lieutenant or company commander for advice.

NAVY RECRUITING POSTER WWIContrary to numerous reports depicting recruiters as bottom feeders, vultures, flim flam artists, used car salesmen, carney barkers, swindlers, grifters, gutless outlaws, sniggering ne’er-do-wells, heartless card sharps, pests and pimps, these honorable men and women offer prompt and accurate guidance to those who wish to fight the War on Terror. Often, criminal convictions are happily waived, as are physical and mental problems, near substandard test scores. Flashy bonuses offered to potential recruits merely demonstrate government largess. The US sends men and women into combat only as a last resort. War is hell but victory is ours. That’s all there is to it.

Basic Training
Each morning at 9am, after a blissful nights sleep, caring drill instructors, schooled in diplomacy, wake future warriors by humming Bach concertos, then cooing softly, “Wakey…wakey.” The thoughtful DI’s help recruits select the days uniform; either red ringspun cotton or blue chinese silk. Thereafter, reclining on Louis XIV wing back chairs, snacking plump grapes and tasty figs, the smiling soldiers contemplate the art of calisthenics.

TROOPS DININGAt the appointed time, DIs hail Rolls-Royce stretch limos which transport the budding paladins to Michelin five star restaurants. Under crystal chandeliers, troops sit at teak tables set with white linen cloths, antique cutlery, fresh cut flowers, silver pitchers of glacial water, and warmed moist napkins for the hands and face. On cue, a dozen French chiefs deliver exquisite plates of Eggs Benedict, imported bacon, Guatemalan fruit cups, endless carafes of fair trade coffee.

After a pallate cleansing licorice tea, the sated recruits play a round of golf, take jaunty horseback rides, or merrily jog to the nearby mall to hone their shopping skills, which are key to urban combat.

At precisely 11AM drill instructors permit male recruits a well earned one-hour nap. Females may choose aromatherapy or a sacred pedicure.

A gourmet lunch is served at 1PM. Afternoons are spent at tennis, badminton, and FIDEL CASTRO SMOKING CIGARvolley ball. Poker and pool tables are also on hand. At the 6PM black tie soiree, seared shrimp, escargot, and hefty slices of Black Forest cake are much in demand, as are barrel-aged whiskies and Cuban cigars.

After a hearty dinner, evening lecture topics include: an erotic history of guerilla warfare, a flâneurs guide to old Fort Knox, and, most popular, the tank top in peace-the bow tie in battle. On weekends, recruits may find time to consult with financiers, talent scouts or literary agents. Lights out at 11PM.

During two months of Advanced Infantry Training, soldiers test themselves at live ammo spelling bees, combat quilt making, airborne speed dating, and night-vision yoga.

All troops fly Business Class to Afghanistan or Iraq. Third, fourth and fifth tour vets are issued Frequent Flyer Cards. Arriving in Bhagdad or Kabul, soldiers are forever awed by the living carpet of rose petals dotting the runway. Once disembarked, eager first sergeants fete them with colorful leis, plentiful kisses, happily shlep their heavy gear to the airport casino, modestly declining all tips. Following six days of foreign films, fashion shows, an all star rock concert and burlesque revue, sleek executive jets transport the soldiers to the appropriate FOB.

FESS PARKER (BEGINNERS GUIDE TO COMBAT)In a senseless 2001 report, “M4A1 5.56mm Carbine and Related Systems Deficiencies and Solutions: Operational and Technical Study with Analysis of Alternatives” the Army’s Special Operations Command stated the M4 automatic rifle, has an “obsolete operating system,” and recommended “redesign/replacement of current gas system.” Thankfully, Col. Robert Redcliffe, Director, Combat Developments, US Army Infantry Center plans to buy 100,000 M4s in fiscal 2008. It is irrelevant that three years prior, Delta Force junked their M4s in favor of the HK416, an automatic rifle said to be the best in the world. Even if the M4 jams, locks up, or misfires, American soldiers must and will continue to carry it into battle.

Depleted Uranium
DU is what is left after natural uranium has been enriched, either for weapons-making or reactor fuel. It is a critical component in munitions by the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines.  In solid form it’s mildly radioactive– there is no cause for concern. Yet with twice the density of lead, DU shells pierce straight through tank armor, exploding in a fiery cloud incinerating all inside. What commanding general could ask for more?

Untitled 1Sadly, rogue scientists say the resultant dust is radioactive and causes radiation poisoning which makes soldiers and civilians sick. But since 1993 Gulf War vet Dan Fahey has completely failed to convince federal committees and politicians that DU is toxic. “I’ve just given up hope,” he says.

Forget the science and documented facts. DU is safe. Indeed, many Gulf War and Iraq vets feel that moderate DU exposure has dramatically lifted their libido, credit ratings, and peer status. Four out of five doctors agree DU effectively treats dandruff, prevents frostbite, and increases telepathy by an average thirty-seven percent.

The Rules of Engagement and the Language of Combat
When confronted by Al-Qaeda, Taliban, Al-Nusra, Fatah al-Islam or Lashkar-e-Taiba, American soldiers are trained to ask “comfort questions” and fire their weapons only as a last resort. Such questions may include:

BOY SCOUT ROCKWELL PAINTING1. Excuse me. May I offer you a cold glass of water?
2. Hi there! Can I borrow your cell phone?
3. Yo! Gotta light?
4. Dude, got any spare ammo? I’m all out.
5. Allahu akbar! Is there a pizzeria you’d recommend?

If the enemy responds with small arms, mortars, rockets, B-40s, RPGs, hand grenades, 50. cal machine guns, tanks, road side bombs, suicide bombers or sophisticated ambush, American troops are prohibited from shouting “Oh my fucking god!” What the fuck, over!” or “Light that motherfucker up!” Appropriate terms shouted in combat include:

1. Boy, oh boy, I don’t think they like us!
2. Golly gee, that was close!
3. Dude, you missed! My turn!
4. Dang! Will you look at that!
5. It’s beginning to feel a lot like Christmas!

Even in war soldiers must fornicate. Written requests are submitted to the battalion medical officer, who will issue one multicam condom per soldier per week. As a result, there are no sex crimes in the Army, Navy Airforce or Marines. Rumors of male soldiers intimidating, sexually harassing, molesting, assaulting, raping or attempting to rape male or female soldiers, whose petitions to their military commanders, either stateside or in war zones, go unheard, are simply untrue.

Although the UN Office on Drugs and Crime estimates that the 2006 opium harvest in Afghanistan will be 6,100 tonnes, more than thirty times 2001 production levels under the Taliban government, American soldiers do not use drugs. Not in Iraq, Afghanistan, or anywhere on earth.

There is no racism among American troops in the Middle East. Spics, spooks, gooks,A well known and popluar ROTC graduate. circa 33 AD micks, wops, kikes, chinks, polacks, krauts, japs, yids, frogs, wogs, commies, haggis shaggers, wet backs, curry munchers, honkies, pakis and jive ass mother fuckers, all view each other in identical high regard. The same can be said of queens, fairies, dykes, pimps, punks, bimbos, sluts, addicts, greasers, perverts, fruit cakes and peanut puffers.

Similarly, American combat troops never refer to Iraqis or Afghans as rag heads, towel heads, hadjis, camel jockeys, pajama mamas, Osamas, pube faces, dune coons, sand monkeys, or sand niggers. These terms are used only by colonels and above.

Despite rumors that Iraqi’s hate US troops, that Afghans have simply given up, the truth is they love us, each day fervently offering American soldiers cold beers, hard liquor, hot dogs, beacon, pork ribs, chitterlings, back issues of Playboy, rare Penthouse videos. With morale sky high, once home, many vets can be heard shouting, “Iraq! Iraq! I want to go back!”

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
The symptoms of PTSD are well known: flashbacks, heightened startle reflex, thoughts of suicide, thoughts of homoide, depression, anger, rage, despair, sadness, aggression, isolation, are a few of its disabling symptoms. But Sally Satel, a psychiatrist and mental health adviser to President George W. Bush, has this enlightened point of view: “I’m not saying PTSD doesn’t exist, but it’s gotten out of hand. I mean, if you see a lot of action and then you come home, you have a hard time walking your dog by the bushes at night, maybe you just avoid the bushes” (Playboy, March 2007). Thank you Sally! What could be better said than that?

So there you have it. The training. The combat. The bantam risks and solid rewards that comprise a soldier’s life. War is hell, but war is good, and victory is near at hand.

Originally published in different form on CounterPunch, April 2007