09 September 2011
One ARMY, One Fight....why I stayed in....
From the Soldier side: Some people have asked me how I managed to put up with staying in the US Army and the California Army National Guard for so long….good question. First, let me make it very clear that regardless (I wanted to used er-regardless, but people tell me that’s not a real word) of what the “Big Army” says, the Regular US Army, the US Army Reserves and the National Guard are distinctly different organizations. When we were in Iraq, the Army’s mantra was: “One Army, One Fight.”
I asked: “then how come the National Guard get's treated like the Bastard Child? When we get activated, even though we went to Active Army Post to train, we got stuck in the abandoned WWII barracks and fed sub standard food or the warehouse in Ft Polk. When we got to Kuwait, the even forgot to give us Ammo!”
Then I think back to when I was in the Regular Army. ( a very long time ago) I went through AIT (Advanced Individual Training) at Ft Polk, LA--- for Infantry mortars- MOS 11C 10. We had a bunch of National Guard folks in our platoon. We thought they were retarded. They screwed up everything they did and made the rest of the platoon look bad. Looking back, I realized THAT was the image the regular Army had of all National Guard troops. And in many cases, they were right. We did have some retards. But on the other hand, we had a lot of troops with a lot of worldly experiences that the Regular Army troops lacked.
Ft Polk Warehouse--- housed 185 troops
One example...when we were in Kuwait, we had to do convoy training. The Regular Army unit a bunch of us California Guard pukes got attached to had NEVER been on any kind of convoy. So, as we got ready for that day’s training, the commander asked some of us senior Guard sergeants if we’d ever been on any kind of convoy. A few of us had….. you see, that’s how we usually got from our home armory to the training area every summer for “camp.” I had also done many from West Berlin, Germany- through East Germany down to West Germany--- through Check Point Alpha and Bravo. (Check Point Charlie went from East to West Berlin).
Opps....sideways...oh heck...Berlin in 1975
When we finally got to Iraq, again the Regular Army unit we were attached to had nobody with any kind of real experience doing what we were going to do---so they formed the teams that went out and traveled with National Guard pukes. ( a bunch of us had just been to Bosnia) Later they added Army Reserves…but I don’t recall a single Active Duty Army Soldier on the teams in the first few months...they had them pulling security for us, but none were on our teams. Later in the deployment they got some really good and expereinced Reg Army folks on some of the teams...
Now, please don’t get me wrong….ALL OF OUR TROOPs were great people. Some of them, Active, Guard and Reserve, were some of the smartest people I have ever seen in my life. And 99% of them were braver than most cops I know. What it took to go out into Baghdad every day in M1114 Humvees was beyond brave. At one point, the team I had was made up of Active Army (Afgan Vet) a Reserve and some Guard Soldiers. I asked the Active duty guy if it bothered him that a Guard Soldier was in charge of him and he said: "Sarge, I'd rather have you than anybody else here!" That made my day.
And the funny thing was--- many of the younger soldiers, Regular Army, Reserves, and Guard HAD ENLISTED AFTER NINE ELEVEN…. Knowing that they might do to someplace bad.
But going back to the original question: Why did I stay in so long…and put in for retirement?
Because of all the funny shit that happened…
If anybody fell asleep during training, I'd get them with the Rubber Chicken...they got me one day
Because not every Soldier did good, they had to come up with new awards
How the USMC sees the US Army