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 stress or its symptoms. If you fought in WWII, Korea, Vietnam, Somalia, Syria, Afghanistan or Iraq and experienced more than one fire fight, ambush, rocket, mortar, IED, tank or ground attack, please ask your former commander about free tickets to Let’s Make a Deal, Jerry Springer or Hot Bench.

Most American civilians have scant knowledge of how our sons and daughters train for combat, what these warrior boys and girls really do in battle, or how vets adapt to civilian life. Below, these topics are discussed in thoughtful detail.

Recruiters are often seen as glow-in-the-dark bottom feeders, NAVY RECRUITING POSTER WWIbeady-eyed vultures, uniformed snake charmers, crooked car dealers, dope fiend carney barkers, first rate swindlers, gutless outlaws, sniggering ne’er-do-wells, heartless card-sharps, or simply pests, pimps, run-of-the-mill lowlifes. In fact, these honorable men and women offer prompt and accurate guidance to young patriots who wish to serve and defend our freedom. Almost always, applicant felony convictions are happily waived. As are chronic psychosis, the absence of two or more limbs, perfect subterranean IQ scores. Flashy bonuses offered to remedial recruits merely demonstrate government largess.

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, “Time to get up sleepy heads.” The thoughtful DI’s assist recruits in color co-ordinating their multicam uniforms. Thereafter, reclining on Louis XIV wing back chairs, dining on Eggs Benedict, Royale or Florentine, the smiling trainees debate the pros and cons of phys ed while sipping chocolate latte’s or hazelnut mocha’s.

After cleansing the palette with Gun Powder tea, the sated recruits may elect to play a sportive round of miniature golf, take jaunty horseback rides on Shetland ponies. Or, to improve their shopping skills, board a BMW jitney to L.L. Bean.

TROOPS DININGAt precisely 11 AM drill instructors permit male recruits a well-earned one hour nap, followed by milk and cookies. Females may elect Tibetan aroma therapy or a Shanghai pedicure. At precisely twelve noon a convoy of Rolls Royce limos transport the budding paladins to the nearest Hilton Hotel. Under Tiffany crystal chandeliers, ardent troops sit at teakwood 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 Gamelan gong cue, elite French chiefs deliver exquisite arrays of Fire Tormented Baby Lamb, Coached Poached Trout, Pretzel Logic Chicken Stew, unlimited carafes of Black Ivory coffee.

Afternoons are spent at doubles tennis, grass court badminton, and/or topless pickle ball. High stakes Poker, Snooker, Eight Ball and English Billiards are further options. At the 6pm black tie soiree, aperitifs of seared Louisiana jumbo shrimp, imported escargot, and hefty slices of mouth watering multilayered Black Forest cake are much in demand.

After a sumptuous five course dinner, evening lectures include An Erotic History of West Point, FIDEL CASTRO SMOKING CIGARand The Tank Top Versus the Bow Tie in Guerrilla Warfare. On weekends many recruits consult with hedge fund managers, or audition for talent scouts. Glenfiddich whiskey and Montecristo Cuban cigars are available prior to lights out at 9 PM.

After the rigors of Basic, during Advanced Infantry Training budding recruits may test themselves at armed spelling bees, hand to hand quilting, airborne speed dating, and, back by popular demand, the two hour naked yoga work out.

Until the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq ended, our troops flew Business Class to Bagdad and Kabul. Second, third and fourth tour vets were issued Frequent Flyer cards. After exiting the plane, the weary troops handed their heavy gear to willing first sergeants, who cheerfully schlepped the burdensome packs to the airport hotel. There, following six days of foreign films, fashion shows, an all star rock concert and burlesque revue, sleek ten passenger jets whisked the gung ho grunts to a luxurious 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, had an “obsolete operating system. It recommended “redesign/replacement of current gas system.”

Thoughtfully, Col. Robert Radcliffe, Director, Combat Developments, US Army Infantry Center, offered to buy 100,000 M4s in fiscal 2008. It is irrelevant that three years prior, Delta Force junked their M4s in favor of the German HK 416, an automatic rifle thought to be the best in the world. Even though the M4 jammed, locked up, or misfired, American soldiers continued to carry that piece of shit into battle.

Depleted Uranium
DU is the material left behind after natural uranium has been enriched, either for weapons-Untitled 1making or nuclear reactor fuel. It is a critical component of American munitions. In solid form DU is not hazardous. But armor piercing DU artillery shells explode in a white hot radioactive cloud, incinerating all inside an unlucky tank or fortified bunker. Jesus! What colonel or general could ask for more?

Unfortunately, the harmful dust results in radiation poisoning, which has sickened thousands of American troops and nearby civilians. For thirty-one years Gulf War vet Dan Fahey has failed to convince federal committees and politicians of DU’s toxicity. “I’ve just given up hope,” he has said.

Goody! Who cares about science! Be a patriot! Forget the facts! Depleted uranium is 100% harmless! Indeed, many Gulf War and Iraq vets say that moderate DU exposure has improved their libido, increased their credit rating, even greatly boosted their peer group status. In addition, four out of five doctors agree DU cures dandruff, prevents frostbite, and increases telepathy by an average 37%.

The Rules of Engagement and the Language of Combat
Whether confronted by Al Qaeda, Taliban, Islamic State, Al Nusra, Fatah al-Islam, Boko Haram, Lashkar-e-Taiba, Al-Shabaab, Isis, retired Viet Cong, etc., etc., American soldiers are trained to ask “comfort questions” first; to fire their weapons only as a last resort. Such questions may include:

1. Excuse me! May I offer you a glass of water?
2. Hi there! I lost my cell phone! Can I borrow yours?
3. Yo, bro! Gotta light?
4. Dude, got any spare ammo? I’m all out.
5. Allahu akbar! Is there a nearby pizzeria you’d recommend?

BOY SCOUT ROCKWELL PAINTINGShould the ungrateful enemy respond with small arms, mortars, rockets, canons, B-40s, RPGs, IEDs, hand grenades, .30 or .50 caliber machine guns, tanks, suicide bombers, drones, spontaneous or sophisticated ambush, American troops are prohibited from saying, “Oh my fucking God, we are so fucked!” or “What the fuck, over!” or “Will somebody please light that motherfucker up!” Appropriate terms spoken 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 need to fornicate. To preserve military decorum, written requests are submitted to the battalion medical officer, who will issue one combat condom per solider per week. In addition, since 1787 there have been zero sexual harassment complaints reported by the Army, Air Force, Navy or Marines. Allegations of male soldier’s intimidating, harassing, molesting, assaulting, raping or attempting to rape female soldiers, or vice versa, or alleged instances of ten way officer/enlisted free-for-all’s, platoon sized orgies or regimental reach- arounds, are categorically denied.

Although the UN Office on Drugs and Crime estimated that the 2006 opium harvest in Afghanistan would be 6,100 tonnes, more than thirty times 2001 production levels under the Taliban, American soldiers DID NOT use drugs. In fact, since WWII not one soldier or sailor has ever been stoned on pot, hash or opium, injected heroin, smoked crack, snorted cocaine, gotten hooked on crystal meth, Fentynal, codeine, dropped acid, shrooms…did I miss one?

There is no racism among American troops. Not now. Not ever. Spics, spooks, gooks, micks, A well known and popluar ROTC graduate. circa 33 ADwhops, chinks, krauts, japs, yids, frogs, wogs, commies, polacks, haggis shaggers, wet backs, curry munchers, honkies, pakis and jive motherfuckers view each other in identical high regard. The same can be said of fairies, queens, dykes, pimps, punks, bimbos, sluts, sissy’s, greasers, bunnies, twinks, fruit cakes, fag hags and peanut puffers.

Similarly, American troops have never referred to Iraqis or Afghans as rag heads, towel heads, hadjis, camel jockeys, pajama mamas, Osamas, pube faces, dune coons, sand monkeys or sand niggers. Only colonels and above may use these terms.

Despite rumors that Iraqis and Afghanis hated US troops, the simple truth is they loved us. Each day the grateful natives fervently offered their American guests ice cold beers, costly hard liquor, genuine Nathan’s hot dogs, organic bacon, pork ribs and chitterlings, back issues of Playboy, current issues of Penthouse, bootleg videos of Girls Gone Wild. With morale sky high, once home, many Iraq vets shouted, “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 homicide, depression, anger, rage, despair, sadness, aggression, isolation. These are a few of its disabling symptoms. But Sally Satel, a psychiatrist and mental health adviser to President George W. Bush, had 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! I couldn’t have said it better!

Well, there you have it. The harsh training, the thrills and rewards of combat. War is hell, but victory is ours. Have you got what it takes to earn it?

Originally published in different form on CounterPunch, April 2007