Monday, January 24, 2005

It's good to be the king

A post from the StrategyPage about how infantry is the "top dog" in the Pentagon money chain. Being a former Marine "grunt", I find this very interesting since the article calls infantry fighting a "complex business". When I joined the military, everyone wanted a "hi-tech" job, but I became a grunt because the only Marine unit in Utah was a grunt unit. Being a grunt in the military was considered something that you did if you were not qualified (read: smart enough) for anything else. Unfortunately, after being a grunt for a while, I realized that although you do not need the brains to understand how a radar works or how an airplane flies, you still need the brains to do your job, and do it well under lots and lots of intense pressure. It's one thing to be able to repair a radio or fly an airplane while you have three square meals a day and 8 hours of sleep every night, but it's a completely different matter to be able to give the right coordinates over the radio to call in artillery on an enemy position, while trying to keep from being shot and also to keep from dropping rounds on your own troops. Oh yes, by the way, it's night, you haven't slept in 26 hours, you are cold and hungry and rain is coming down like the start of Noah's 40-day/40-night flood.

During the Cold War and after the Kosovo "War", the Air Farce thought that they could win wars all by themselves. During the Cold War, the AF planned to drop a few nukes and Bingo! Game Over! During Kosovo, the Army had to standby on the sidelines while the AF bombed the Serbs into submission, more or less. As a result, the AF thought that future wars would be won by air power, and only by air power. The Pentagon might as well start taking the money from the Army and the Navy and start funneling the money to AF for more fighter planes. But, like we used to say in the Marines, "Before you can land on the ground, you need to take the ground.", we can now see that Kosovo was an aberration. Hi-tech airplanes flying overhead in Afghanistan and Iraq do nothing to stop the terrorists attacks without a grunt telling them where to drop the bombs. It's also the grunts going in and "kickin' ass and takin' names" that's winning the war. The AF was originally conceived to support the Army (the grunts), but over the years, they have forgotten that fact. It's nice when world events happen which slap the AF back into reality.


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