--I help people with problems
--More of a problem eliminator
--License to Kill (1989)
How can you mend this broken man?
How can a loser ever win?
Please help me mend my broken heart
and let me live again
--How Can You Mend a Broken Heart,
The Bee Gees
We are here to help the Vietnamese,
because inside every gook
there is an American trying to get out
--Full Metal Jacket (1987)
And the day came when the risk to remain
tight in a bud was more painful than the risk
it took to blossom
[continuation of 1.10.11 post . . .]
Following the normal administration shuffle betwixt and between and after more in-country training, Ranger found himself once again at Square One, stepping off yet another airplane on my way to unit assignment and yet more in-country combat training.
If training alone could win wars, the U.S. Army could've planted a flag in my asshole and declared victory, much as we actually did before we turned tail. That declared victory could have saved many good men on both sides who were still extremely combative and killing the hell out of each other.
After graduating from Studies and Observations Group (SOG) in-country training, I was assigned as an assistant to an assistant, which meant I was an afterthought waiting to blossom into an actuality. Whether I was an adviser or a troop is still something I cannot figure out; after all, this was UW/GW and the rules are different there.
My counterpart was a Vietnamese Special Forces Captain, Phu, with whom I had a warm and beer-drenched experience since we did not know that drinking tea was actually the solution to all our problems. Instead, we took the less kind, less gentle route of Ba Mui Ba Bier 33, since that is what real men in real COIN environments did back then. We drank beer and I dealt with Vietnamese officers daily, but I never once spoke to a VN enlisted man nor broke bread in their fly-ridden mess hall. Round eyes ate in air conditioning.
I helped provide food, training and all the other goodies, but never learned one thing about their lives, their dreams or their fears. That was not my concern, and my indifference was echoed by most of the other officers assigned to my unit. We simply did not care, which is kind of odd considering SF mouthed all the platitudes about living with the indigenous, winning hearts and minds (H & M), and the whole crock.
Under my direct supervision were Engineers, Armor support, ammo storage and the motor pool, but I never spoke to anyone but the direct supervisor of the section in question. This is how the U.S. Army runs, but is it sufficient to win H & M? In 40 years, has anything really changed, what with Pepsi and Pizza Hut vendors providing grub?
Extreme sadness overtakes me when I consider these futile realities and the memories of many good men intrude upon my brain. Why did we execute this imbecile task back then, and why do we do so today? Do we think that drinking tea will bridge a cultural chasm? Why do we perpetuate these follies on the weakest of pretenses with the frailest hope of success?
Sad is the overarching feeling that saturates memories of the days of my young manhood. It is sad that we waste good young soldiers in logic-defying situations, and the sadness is undiluted after 40 years. There are those who point out the reduced number of casualties in today's wars, but how do you quantify a casualty of the spirit?
And that's all I have to say about that.