16 February 2012

Understanding US Military Jobs- for dummies...

From the Soldier side:  Here’s something you can do if you really want to see a military person get mad at you.  Call a Marine (current or former) a Soldier.  Call a Sailor a Marine or Soldier.  Call an Airmen anything but…etc. 
I’ve come to realize that a lot (as in “shitload”) of civilians in the USA no little or no understanding about our military.  Even though we’ve had over a million “troops” ( a general term for all those in the military, but really only the Army has “troops”…keep up here and you’ll figure it out) have deployed since Sep 11, 2001. 
I’ve often heard from somebody I’ve meant or know , tell methat they have a nephew, niece, cousin, etc who’s deployed.  I always ask them two questions after they tell me that: 1.) What branch of the service are they in, and 2.) What’s their job? 

You’d be surprised how often the person tells me: “…uhhh…I don’t know.  Is there a difference?” 

Yes there is a difference you dumbass.  All the branches of the US Military have very specific names, jobs and each of them is very proud of who they are and what they do.  I will never say that one is better than the other, because in my 20 years of active Army and National Guard service, I had times when I counted on each of them to do something- in some cases my life depended on it. 

So, here’s a quick cheet sheet

US Army- over 200 years of tradition unchanged by progress.  All in the Army are called “Solders.”  This is the main battle force for the military.  They are the biggest and have more “sub branches”.  They have the Army Reserves and the Army National Guard – which has units in all 50 states and other countries that aren’t yet states. 

The Army has about a hundred different jobs, called MOS.  The soldiers are lead by NCOs (Non Commissioned Officers- NEVER call them Sir or Mam) Warrant Officers and Officers.  All branches of the military have enlisted, NCOs etc..

The Army Infantry Soldiers are called “grunts”, “line doggies” and stuff like that.  All Soldiers who don’t leave the camps are called “REMFS”.    

US Marine Corps are the best and cream of the crop for ground combat.   Marines are called “Marines” not Soldiers.  They get more “basic training” and all are considered “riflemen” and are the guys you want around you on your side in a fight. 

US Air Force- in real life, only a few in the Air Force are pilots or aircrew. They are called “Airmen”.  The rest do all the other jobs needed for the air craft and pilots to do their jobs.  Air Force people seem a little brighter than some of the other services, but they have to be with all the technical stuff they have to work with. 

US Navy…the main job is to put boats (ships) in the water.  They are called “Saliors”.  I get worried when I’m on water and can’t see land, so sailors are very brave and must be good swimmers incase their ship sinks (which doesn’t happen much anymore).   

US Coast Guard is not really considered part of the US military, but they can be in war.  They are called “Sailors”.  These guys ride around in small boats that make me sea sick just watching them underway.  The Coast Guard’s job is to protect our shores and ports and they do a very good job with limited resources.  From what I’ve seen, the sailors they’ve trained for boarding parties are some of the best folks I’ve ever seen with weapon skills. 

So, if you have a friend or family member who’s “in the military” take some time the next time you talk to them to find out what they do…and for God’s sake, at least know what branch of the service they’re in. 
Went there, did that, got the T-Shirt

And one of my favorite stories of a “dumbass”.  When I returned from Bosnia, one of the police “bosses” I worked for asked me: “How was Kosovo?”  I told him: “I don’t know, I was in Bosnia.” 

Later, when I returned from Iraq, that same retarded police administrator asked me how Iraq was (he got it right that time.)  I told him it was “OK” and left it at that.  Then he went on to tell me he’d been ROTC for a while in college.  I just looked at him and wanted to say: “So, you’re time in the ROTC was just like my deployment to Iraq?  You dumbass.”   
CI Roller (a Soldier) with a Marine K9 (not a Soldier)

Don’t try to tell a war vet about your “one time at band camp.”  We’ll just laugh. 

08 February 2012

CAL Guard, 12Bravo, 1st in, Last out

From the Soldier side: Sometimes looking back on my National Guard days, I often asked myself: “Why did you stay in?” Remember I had been in the Regular Army in the old Berlin Brigade. In Berlin, we were spit shined all the time. We had highly polished boots, sharp creases in our uniforms and enough starch to stop a bullet. (well not really)

                                            1968 "Vintage" 5 Ton Dump trucks... Delta Co 579th Engineers

But, the National Guard in 1989 was nothing like that. We had some guys whose only job was the “One weekend a month” when they came to drills. It was easy to see why many of them couldn’t hold a regular job the rest of the month- they were too messed up. Many were drunks, lazy, slobs, or just dumb. Some were all of the above.

…All except the platoon I was in. Somehow I ended up in the best platoon. (Well, we had a few heavy drinkers, but they were “functioning alcoholics”.) It was good to be on a good platoon, but guess who they called on when they needed something done and done right? Our platoon.

Did I mention we had some heavy drinkers?  We did.  I think the worst were the cooks.  Now for those who’ve never been in the military, you may not know that they actually send people to school to learn how to cook for other people.  But, in our case, I suspect most of our company cooks fell asleep in cook school. 

The first time I went out into the “field” (that’s where we’d camp out in the woods for the weekend) I found how bad our cooks were.  Now write this down: “50% of doing any job well is just showing up!”  Well, most of the times our cooks were too drunk to wake up the next morning or they forgot to come to drill one weekend a month. 

…so there we were, bivouacked (military term for camping) in some woods near our armory.  We had been running around all Saturday digging holes and stuff.  When it came to dinner time, we were told that there was a problem, so we’d be eating MREs.  The next morning for breakfast, we were expecting eggs, coffee and stuff…and we were told that there was a problem.  So my platoon sergeant called me over to the hood of his Jeep.  He opened up his ruck sack and took out a camp stove, instant coffee and a box of Pop Tarts.  He said: “It’s another Pop Tart Breakfast.” 

I learned that day to NEVER count on anybody to take care of my men or me.  It’s happened in the Army and in Police work many times.  Our cooks were drunks and when they finally woke up, I suggested that we tie them to the Jeep and drag them around in the woods.