Sunday, June 07, 2009

Heart Breaking News

Today's IHT had this piece on Soldier suicides. I thought about it a lot today, and wonder if this is an unavoidable result of expecting a relatively small volunteer force to conduct an excessively long campaign.

My thoughts, of course, are based on anecdotal experience, but the fact remains that the US has not called called upon soldiers to face such stress in the past 100 years. While the Doughboys of WWI, the GIs and Marines of WWII, Korea and Viet Nam may have seen much more direct combat action, there is a vast difference in the human dynamics of today's AVF GWOT GI and his predecessors.

1. The twin operations in Iraq & Afghanistan have gone on longer than WWI, WWII or Korea.

2. While we fought for seven years in VN, troops were assigned to combat tours primarily on an individual replacement basis.

Number 2 is the one that occupied my thoughts today. During VN, it was common to see one's comrades in arms leave the service. In fact, "ETSing" was a regular occurrence. Similarly, we came and went from the combat zone as individuals, and when not in RVN, our activities were focused on the job at hand, not refitting and retraining to redeploy. And, we enjoyed more than 12 to 14 months between deployments, and rarely served with the same people on subsequent combat tours. Further, the average time in combat with the soldiers in a unit was 6 months, as rotation dates were spread out across the year.

Today's AVF soldier cannot escape Iraq/Afghanistan. After about 6 months stateside, he and those he recently served with begin the refit/retrain cycle to deploy again - together. Thus, the soldier might very well serve five or six years, including multiple in theater tours of 12 to 14 months, with the same fellow soldiers the entire time. The bonding has got to be intense.

At first blush, this bonding might seem a good thing. Yet, I clearly remember that leaving my colleagues in VN was more difficult than any other PCSes, and I had been with them an average of six months. They were still in harm's way, and I was going to "safety". The relief of surviving the tour was offset by worries for those left behind. Further, there was no "shame" on those who simply served their contractual terms and returned to civilain life. The draft ensured a constant flow of new talent.

But today's soldier does not face the "normality" of people leaving the service as commonly as we did in VN. He knows that the Army is hard pressed to fill it's ranks and that retention is critical. Further, he is much more closely bound to those around him than we were in VN, and believe you me, we were tight. I can easily see where some Soldiers might wish to move on in their lives, yet feel as if doing so would be tantamount to deserting their buddies. In short, almost trapped with no honorable way out.

Iraq/Afghanistan is our first protracted campaign using an all volunteer force. There have been several signs of stress induced behavior. Marines killing themselves in significant numbers by reckless motorcycle riding. Spousal abuse. And, suicide. And, there really is no end on the immediate horizon. Perhaps we need to re-evaluate the assumptions of the AVF, and address its real limitations, or more accurately, the limits it places on US power projection.


seydlitz89 said...


Agree. Well put.

Funny me, I thought Obama getting in was supposed to end those particular wars . . . Instead we seem to be in a sort of strategic holding pattern, waiting for our chances to break, another move suddenly presenting itself allowing us to achieve strategic effect. We continue to force a presence at the tactic level which allows us to use military power, that is we keep the wars going. Yet, there is no apparant application for the "military instrument" given our obscure political goals. The military defined now as our fighting forces in the field are caught at the horns of this dilemma. The political purpose, which remains the same as before, is hopelessly compromised due to the existence of two contradictory sets of war aims: the publicly stated "GWOT for democracy" on the one hand and the seemingly actual war aims of empire (control, domination, basis for the projection of power) on the other. Our military is either uselessly committed since they can never establish democracy let alone provide total security, or they are crucially understrength since it would take a far larger force to try to achieve the empire's goals. . .

Without another war there's little chance of achieving strategic effect in any case.

Yet, we hang about anyway at the tactical level burning up our resources over time . . . due to strategic confusion and the nature of the political entity we have become? I fear our AVF will bear a terrible cost.

Anonymous said...

Always nice to see Seydlitz. WRT the AVF: It doesn't work and the nation is ill-served by it.

More to follow.

publius said...

Don't know how I came out as "anonymous."

I tried and I guess I failed. Whatever. Best to all, especially Al, who's keeping this dying blog site alive.

Al, if I could, I would put together a web site. What are your thoughts? Time to pitch JD over the side?

JD: Time for you to have the decency to close this web site down. Are you paying for this? It's a joke.

Do you even read anything here, JD? I hope you don't have some serious issues that you haven't shared qth us. Otherwise, I'd kind of put you with your buddy Phil Carter, who, as it ended up was only using Intel Dump to look for work.

Al, my advice to you is to cut a deal with FD Chief and post with him. Maybe I'll even do the same thing. JD has deserted all of us and it's my sense that we're all wasting our time with buggieboy.

JD, please, just close Buggie Boy down. It's embarrassing. ISTM that we must conclude that you no longer care about the Army or the people who invested some of their lives in you.

Carter and Henderson. Were you both just always on the make?

Close Buggie Boy down. It's a joke. JD, go out and do whatever it is you do. It clearly isn't the military. You once had some cred with some of u, but no more.

Why am I doing this? Well, Phil Carter first screwed a lot of us—with no explanation whatsoever—because he was on the make. Phil got his wish, and that's fine. But this retired Army officer has no use for Phil Carter. He used all of us.

Yeah, I'm tired and pissed off. Carter and Henderson promised much, but delivered very little.
What's funny is that Al the Aviator and I are different dudes, with different combat experiences. But we've both got our medals and shit. Neither Carter nor Henderson had that.

JD, time to close this site down. Whatever's happened, the audience is gone.

Publius said...

This may be my last post ever on BuggieBoy. I read my last post and it was seriously bad. I apologize.

I really liked our old Intel Dump comummunity.

Unfortunately, we can never have a community the way things are now.

Best to all.

Rick98c said...

You guys really should get together with FDChief. He's a freaking genius. Maybe you could go in on a new site that focuses on the military and he could keep his current site for the everyday life stuff.

I really miss the back and forth of Intel Dump, but at least I can get my FDChief fix at Graphic Firing Table.

basilbeast said...

publius, rick, this is so strange. I wrote a post at chief's site just a while ago suggesting the same thing, that Al should collaborate with chief.

Great minds think alike, eh?


sheerahkahn said...

Al, Seydlitz, Chief, and Publius...I think it's totally possible and doable to create a site.
I don't think JD is on the make, in fact, it's probably that he is trying to focus on his non-virtual life and the issues that are contained therein.
Or it could be for health reasons...I always give the benefit of the doubt...JD, I hope you are doing okay.
However, I also suspect that buggieboy has served it's purpose which is to keep us in contact with each other, and that is important.
I'm not sure what the new site would entail, or how to focus it...but I think RangeragainstWar is doing a fabulous job, and of course Chief with his military history series is fantastic as well.
We can talk more about it, but alas, I'm not computer savvy as much as I would like to be...we would need a webhosting service, and someone to handle the day to day stuff.
Hell, I'd refocus my site to more mundane, and pathetic stuff in order to contribute some articles to the new site.
Anyway, I'm game.
Perhaps...a suggestion for a possible title...

Please forgive my impertinence.

Military Affairs Conference Veterans, Sociologists, Observers Generalists, a discussion of how domestic politics, economics, and religion has affected American Domestic and Foreign policies in the past, present, and future.

Fasteddiez said...


You really don't need web hosting per se. You can use a secondary box as a web server (nothin fancy on account of you ain't gonna get Amazon like traffic). You can get around the need of a static IP by using using DynDNS (free or 15 bucks a year plus domain name).

Sure you need a bit of help setting it up, but you can use freebie software (linux distros and Apache web server). I am not in the position, as of now to have the extra needed box. If I inherit my better half's now dead desktop. I can furnish the box.

How's about Intel Dumpster for a name????? Carter's Armani bikini undies would surely auger into his butt, but who cares?

Pluto said...

I agree with all of the above on getting a combined service going. The big challenge of starting one of these sites is keeping it fresh.

Whatever else you can say about Phil, he did a great job of keeping the discussion going and posting provocative articles on a frequent basis.

I like the idea of having a group of people like Al, FDC, and Sheera sharing the hosting duties to spread out the pain. Any chance that Seydlitz would toss in an occasional article?

Being me, I'd vote for including more on the economics that underlie a lot of our military decisions and the topics related to military affairs such as the geopolitical situation and the ongoing craziness in Washington.

As a side note, the Chief's comments about his domestic situation and musical tastes have been entertaining and a nice relief from the ongoing gloomy world situation and it might be a good idea to work in a few posts on that level to keep us all a little more sane.

seydlitz89 said...


Yes, I would be interested in contributing an occasional piece to a new blog or revamped/expanded blog. Fasteddiez's suggestion for a name is interesting as well.

I share Publius's anger and frustration as well, since just about every blog talking about military affairs/strategy is promoting their own agenda, attempting to cash in (in their own subjective way) on the GWOT swindle. Exum's is an example of this as well as are all the lesser COIN/4GW sites. They never question their assumptions or ask the basic strategic questions . . . as in how do the continuing wars actually promote US national security/interests as opposed to narrow elite/political/economic/imperial interests?

So a plague on all their houses, since they are driven imo by narrow interest and not shared ideals or concerns for the interests of the country as a whole.

Whether JD fits in with this group I have no reason to believe he does. While he was politically active in the last election cycle, he obviously was interested in the same sort of change that most here favor and does not appear to have personally benefited from his involvement. Were some of his views naive imo? Yes, but such a perspective is useful to balance the other side of the coin (I won't refer to either as "extremes") which is a view I share.

So, a resounding "yes" to a son of "Intel Dump" and "Buggieboy" and continued dialogue/discussion/dialectic with this group of august individuals. I can honestly say that this group has been one of perhaps three internet communities where I have learned from the posts and not simply been angered and moved to despair by the willful blindness of this contributing.

Why not a trio of Al, Publius and FDChief with others including myself occasionally contributing to keep the ball rolling? From what I see NOBODY out there is representing what I see as our common view.

Aviator47 said...

I'm game for anything that keeps intelligent dialog alive, but lack the web hosting skills to set it up. And, pooling our talents to find issues and generate off the dialog would be very beneficial. I would never be able to generate the almost daily thought provokers that Phil did, but a team of us could surely gin up two a week.

I've just used Buggie-Boy as a vehicle to toss some thoughts out. If there is support for opening a new blog dedicated to what has been tossed about above, it's easy enough to do on Blogger, and we can have more than one authorized author.

So, settle on a name, volunteer to be an author and I'll set it up.


almost drafted said...

What I know about blog infrastructure can be typed on my thumbnail, so I don't think I can help much.

But googling "free blogging" turned up 22 million+ hits.

Just a thought...



Aviator47 said...

JP and all

It would not be difficult to set up a new blog on and customize it to our desires, to include authorizing team members who can start threads.

PUBLIUS- since you kicked this off in a spate of old geezer pique, wanna suggest a name, topical areas we will focus on and a description to put in the header. We will then pick that apart, try to humiliate you and so forth. Will also need an appropriate graphic as our banner.


Think and suggest

"Old Soldiers Never Die"

Comments and opinion on foreign policy and military affairs by those who have been there, with help from some who haven't.

Now, how about a counter offer?


sheerahkahn said...

I'm thinking that the name should be specifically broad enough that allows a focus look at what ails our military, society, country, and our place in the world.
So...I'm thinking MilSpecReport...hopefully that is still available...covering Current US military policies, US foreign policies as to how it affects the US military, and general items of interest that orbit the issue of the US military like history, military social culture, with open mic stories like the Moth on NPR, except that this would be done by people who were in the military and can be verified by rank, unit, etc.
I'm batting this around in my head all

Fasteddiez said...


You are not going to attract new people with a handle that starts with "Old Soldiers." It has that Geezeroid je ne sais quoi which will repel potential "New Meats."
Should you not want to get latter day Intel/Mil types to see why the present goat rapine, masquerading as responsible foreign policy is a re-release of a really bad movie from your era?

Publius won't like Intel Dumpster because, being a CI guy, Diving in a Dumpster for Intel will bring up memories of witless training exercises past. I, on the other hand, enjoyed watching CI folk in their natural habitat...BWAAAAHAAAAHAA!

Fasteddiez said...


You are not going to attract new people with a handle that starts with "Old Soldiers." It has that Geezeroid je ne sais quoi which will repel potential "New Meats."
Should you not want to get latter day Intel/Mil types to see why the present goat rapine, masquarading as responsible foreign policy is a re-release of a really bad movie from your era?

Publius won't like Intel Dumpster because, being a CI guy, Diving in a Dumpster for Intel will bring up memories of witless training exercises. I, on the other hand, enjoyed watching CI folk in their natural habitat...BWAAAAHAAAAHAA!

Rick98C said...

A few suggestions... mostly tongue-in-cheek..

Angry Lifer

Rebelious TOC


Down with the Ship

Soldier On

I've got yer Warrior... hangin'

Tears in a bucket...

Lifer Juice

Roger that

Ok, I'll stop now... whatever you call it I hope you get it together ASAP. Iloved Intel Dump, but I honestly won't miss the participation of obvious paid trolls... hopefully they're not on the payroll anymore.

FDChief said...

Gang: I'd enjoy co-posting to a blog site where we could all pitch in with our opinions and assvice. I try to kick in here, but I'm limited by my lack of access.

And blogger, at least (since that's my only hands-on experience) is pretty easy to access. When you set up a blog all you have to do is set up the blogowner's names and passwords. AFAIK blogger has no practical limits on the number of people who can access a blog.

And since we seem to be thinking of names already, let me see...

How about:

"S-2 Briefing"

"Class I Download"

"Orderly Room" (or "Disorderly Room")

"Coffee and Donuts in the White House" (airborne joke - anyone else remember that little catchprase?)

"Box of Grid Squares"

I like Rick's "Lifer Juice". There's about a jillion service-related food tags, although my vote would be "Beef With Spiced Sauce" (since "Ham and Motherfuckers" might scare away the bystanders...)

"Check or Hold?" (FA reference - when the BCS computer announces the firing data, the charts-and-darts guy and/or the BUCS operator announces "check" if the data matches, or "hold" if it doesn't. The implication being that we're airing our opinions to see who agrees and who disagrees.

Anyway...I'm seriously willing to do the groundwork of setting up a blogger site to be our local politic0-military tavern. Let's drop down to e-mail for that, tho. Contact me at:

Let's do it.

sheerahkahn said...

was my suggestion

Aviator47 said...

GI-Politico Taverna?

Rally Point

Fire for Effect!


Fasteddiez said...

I like rick's I got yer Warrior Hangin'

Intel Dumpsteratii

Poli/Mil Meet Beet Manifesto

Opinionated Lifers of means by no means

Every Wonk a King (Lifer Chapter)
Nowe Mowe Wog Wolling

Jacobinicate Reduxio ad Absurdum

Can I bum a Smoke?

Liferoid Empiricism

Apr├Ęs Nous, le Zeebruge (Raid that is....PSSSSSTTTTT)

basilbeast said...

Many news/commentary/opinion websites are going this way, putting together a "coalition" if you will of writers to contribute to a site that was the project of just one or two.

It certainly saves time online.

And you do get a wider variety of writers and thoughts, that previously were overlooked.

As for names? Movie titles, anyone?

Paths of Glory, the Dirty Dozen, Full Metal Jacket?


Doesn't have to be military, of course, speaking as a civilian.


Pluto said...

I like these two suggestions best:

Rally Point

Fire for Effect!

Publius said...

Damn, I started this madness and haven't even been on the site to check out the traffic. Sorry, folks. I have a house guest who won't leave until all the liquor is gone.

I'm in. I think it would be a lot of fun. I agree with Seydlitz about the quality of most military blogs. They're pretty shallow, plus they're full of hidden (and not so hidden) agendas. Personally, I would like to focus politics, military, spook stuff. Also, just some life-style. We all live in different places. Descriptions would be pretty cool, IMO. For example, I live in what I believe to be one of the most beautiful places in the world. However, it's also got serious issues with poverty, poor schools, jackass politicians, etc. So I would talk about what I like and dislike. And I'd like to get better acquainted with the areas where you others hang out.

I also have some thoughts about things like medical care in this country. I've gotten to know more than I wanted to know in the past couple of months (for example, I now know a cardiologist) and maybe I could provide some cautionary notes.

There is a wealth of experience amongst the regulars and it's not all the same. That's nice because it's always good to learn something new.

Understand, however, that I am not exactly what one would call an IT expert. I'll do what I can, but you know all about old dogs and new tricks.

I like MilSpecReport.

And if JD is reading this, I'm going to apologize for my intemperate language. I don't know why JD isn't active any longer and it's wrong for me to read anything sinister into it. JD is a good guy and I hope all is well with him.

Fasteddiez said...


Diogenes e-mailed me while Intel Dump was popular about a particular thread.

He says he was an MI reservist who got a CI slot when he activated and went to Iraq. He was one or two classes behind me at DLI, and knew some of the people in the Marine det.

He seemed to know the Humint verbiage. As we all remember, he was gung ho on the Iraq Goat screw.
That's the only reason I was teasing Publius....Sorry!

almost drafted said...

Re: blog name, I suppose "S#1T on a Shingle" is out of the question...

Look, I've always felt reticent about posting here because my military service was long ago, short, and very comfortable (training, NSA, SAC, and all of it stateside) in comparison with the experience of the regulars here.

So I can hardly say you have a duty, or even a responsibility, to share your experienced-based insights. You have discharged your duties and responsibilities by virtue of your long and honorable service.

But I would really, really hate to see those extremely valuable insights (not to mention your finely-honed bullshit detectors) disappear. I for one would be much the poorer if I hadn't been exposed to them.

For just one example, I recall the many times your first-hand experience with senior officers and their selection, um, let us say illuminated, the pablum peddled by the mainstream media.

So who else is going to tell the world whether the selection of the new Afghanistan command team (link) is likely to succeed?

My 2 cents,


Aviator47 said...

JP- we need the whole gang's input, insight and concerns, so while a few of us might initiate things, I trust all will jump in and share their views.

We will get something going, and SOON!

BTW, I was tempted to open a thread on that article this morning, but the wife had other plans...


Rick98c said...

Sh%T on a Shingle is the best one yet!

Don't have to act as though it were a DOD authorized site. :)

seydlitz89 said...

I like sheer's MilSpecReport, but it comes across a bit stiff, so perhaps something more relaxed(?) . . .

Geostrat-Mil Taverna/Kneipe/Bodega?

or simply Geostrategic Hootch?

Need a catchy name I suppose.

Anyway count me in whatever the name is.


Nice article, but where exactly do you suppose all this movement in Afghanistan is expected to get us?

sheerahkahn said...

Hmm, stiff eh...alright...lemmesee... is gett'n harder now.


Something that is relaxed, discussible, brings out good discussions that can devolve into some solid, good ol'fashion ad hominems about ones ancestory, questionable or knowledgable, and yet provides an atmosphere of comraderie that still respects dissent no matter how ignorant the other party wishes to make of themselves...

hmm...sounds like a tavern alright, but more closely, a Pub.


Which, for everyone else can mean anything but for us can mean exactly what we want it to mean.

Which brings me to my next point...I need a beer.

basilbeast said...

That day the young soldier, whose assignment included driving a Humvee through perhaps the most dangerous ZIP code on the globe, saw his sergeant blown to pieces. He saw the bodies of half of the men in his platoon torn apart. Heads were cut off and limbs severed. It happened 30 yards in front of him, and he had never been so afraid, he told his mom.

"My arms are around you," Donna Hogue wrote. "You'll be alright."

But Hogue never really recovered. Last week, he committed suicide by hanging himself in the backyard of his childhood home. He was 24 years old.

According to the Army, soldiers are killing themselves at the highest rate in nearly three decades, surpassing the civilian suicide rate for the first time since the Vietnam War.

At least 128 U.S. soldiers killed themselves last year, a number that has risen four years in a row. The death toll could be even higher this year. Through April, 91soldiers had committed suicide.

Give rest, Lord, to the soul of Your servant, who has fallen asleep, in Your Kingdom, where there is no pain, sorrow or suffering.


Publius said...

"Something that is relaxed, discussible, brings out good discussions that can devolve into some solid, good ol'fashion ad hominems about ones ancestory, questionable or knowledgable, and yet provides an atmosphere of comraderie that still respects dissent no matter how ignorant the other party wishes to make of themselves..."

That's it! We can always count on Sheer to come up with just the right words. IMO, that's what we must strive for.

JP: "Look, I've always felt reticent about posting here because my military service was long ago, short, and very comfortable (training, NSA, SAC, and all of it stateside) in comparison with the experience of the regulars here."

JP, I don't want see shit like this from you. I've never seen any old dog posting on Intel Dump or anywhere else that had a monopoly on the truth or on insight into a particular issue. You know how the Army used to run staff meetings? The junior officer always spoke first. This was based on a commander's desire to get the best advice possible, while also recognizing that Lieutenant HoofandMouth might be reluctant to voice his opinions if they were contrary to thoughts already voiced by Colonel Blimp.

It's pretty simple, really. You won't ever be heard if you don't speak up. I will promise you that I'll always read your stuff—even if I have to hold my nose—and I'll always respect you for putting it out there. I might tell you you're full of shit, I might tell you you've displayed blinding insight. Either way, I'll be honest with you and I won't ever demean you.

Does that work? I don't want you just lurking. You're a sharp guy and what we're talking about will only work if everybody kind of forgets about possibly embarrassing themselves and always gives the rest of us their best shot. And, oh, BTW, JP, you don't want us old farts to disappear? Well, we will disappear, without guys like you to challenge us.

Al, it's my sense this kind of thing could degenerate in a classical goat screw if we don't get some leadership. I nominate you to parcel out jobs, but you're also way over there hanging out under olive trees. I'd volunteer, but (1) I'm lazy; (2) I'm going through some physical rehab stuff that's eating time; and, (3) I don't have the requisite computer skills. My choice would actually be FDChief—who's already volunteered (he clearly never learned that valuable lesson about volunteers), but he's got a full plate with family and job.

So I don't know, folks. If somebody can walk me through this shit, I could might do it. But I need help. Do you all recall how Abu Muqawama was before the kid running it sold out to the think tank? There were as many as five or six frequent bloggers for a while, but then, seemingly overnight, they all disappeared. I'd guess there was a falling out of some kind.

But it's obviously possible to put together a blog with several folks throwing stuff into the mix. Somebody's obviously got to be the leader/moderator or whatever, but I think that's doable. I gotta tell you, there is a lot more talent hanging around here than what I've seen elsewhere. We could really put together a dynamite thing.

Shit, maybe we'll be famous.

almost drafted said...


"...where exactly do you suppose all this movement in Afghanistan is expected to get us?"

I hope the Afghanistan adventure is about stabilizing Pakistan. Pakistan actually has WMDs as well as a record of involvement in nuclear proliferation (see A.Q. Khan). And the ISI is as inimical toward us as Al Quaeda, and more capable.

Can Pakistan be stabilized by our efforts in Afghanistan? Beats the heck out of me. That's why I asked about that article on the new command structure.

Which brings me to Publius' comments. First of all, "Three bags full, sir!" :)

The thing is, I'm a dillettante and I know it. What I bring to the table (in my job as well as here) is ignorance. I'm no dumber than the average joe, but the average joe is the one who needs to be exposed to operational realities. So I ask questions, sometimes to start a conversation on a subject about which I'm curious. But before jumping into an ongoing discussion, I try to learn as much as I can from the conversation that has gone before.

Ignorance, unlike stupidity, is curable. So please do act on your pledge to tell me when I'm full of shit whenever necessary.

By the way, that bit about letting juniors speak first is an outstanding practice. Would that it was followed in the corporate. Oh, and I bow to no one when it comes to experience in old farthood.



sheerahkahn said...

Right then, forward the pikes, push em off the field, then we'll break for tea and crumpets!

I'm working on my first article...hopefully, I'll make a lasting first know, the kind that confirms all y'alls initial suspicions about me and my competency.

FDChief said...

OK, here's the deal:

I've set up a blog on Blogger.

It's called "MilPub" and it's located at
I picked the title just because I liked the name - it's fungible, and if the group wants something different, we can change it.

To gain posting rights, all you need to do is send me an e-mail:

I will "invite" you through Blogger to post - up to 100 people can post to any blog - and you will get a password and you're started.

I'm not trying to steal from "buggieboy", but I like the idea of giving Publius, Al, sheerah...seydlitz...all the folks who regularly comment here, a forum for expression. I'll be happy to do the housekeeping; with Blogger it's fairly easy.

You will have to get a "Google account" to get started. I've had mine for three years now and haven't noticed a marked increase in the amount of german language male enhancement spam I'm getting.

So e-mail me, gents, and let's get started.

Aviator47 said...


Great start. I've sent you 3 e-mails, but no response. Are they getting thru?


Publius said...

My liquor cabinet is now empty, which means my houseguest sees no reason to hang around my digs any longer. He is leaving early tomorrow. After a day of rest, I will be ready to engage you all on "MilPub."

Just kidding about my houseguest. My oldest and best friend. We were sergeants together and were in each others' weddings. We are way too much alike and we keep telling one another that we're too old to keep it up. And then we're right back to it. I may write something someday about the nature of friendships developed in the military.

Thanks to the Chief for grapping the bull by the horns. I've gotten your emails, Chief. May not do the admin stuff tonight, but tomorrow for sure.

FDChief said...

I apologize for hijacking this thread to rapture away your readers, JD. I hope that we can maintain both sites as fora for discussion and observation.

And as for the original topic, I only wish that the vicious neglect and misery of those who have given their youth, their strength and their hope for the country was a new thing:

"The Last of the Light Brigade"

There were thirty million English who talked of England's might,
There were twenty broken troopers who lacked a bed for the night.
They had neither food nor money, they had neither service nor trade;
They were only shiftless soldiers, the last of the Light Brigade.

They felt that life was fleeting; they knew not that art was long,
That though they were dying of famine, they lived in deathless song.
They asked for a little money to keep the wolf from the door;
And the thirty million English sent twenty pounds and four!

They laid their heads together that were scarred and lined and grey;
Keen were the Russian sabres, but want was keener than they;
And an old Troop-Sergeant muttered, "Let us go to the man who writes
The things on Balaclava the kiddies at school recites."

They went without bands or colours, a regiment ten-file strong,
To look for the Master-singer who had crowned them all in his song;
And, waiting his servant's order, by the garden gate they stayed,
A desolate little cluster, the last of the Light Brigade.

They strove to stand to attention, to straighten the toil-bowed back;
They drilled on an empty stomach, the loose-knit files fell slack;
With stooping of weary shoulders, in garments tattered and frayed,
They shambled into his presence, the last of the Light Brigade.

The old Troop-Sergeant was spokesman, and "Beggin' your pardon," he said,
"You wrote o' the Light Brigade, sir. Here's all that isn't dead.
An' it's all come true what you wrote, sir, regardin' the mouth of hell;
For we're all of us nigh to the workhouse, an, we thought we'd call an' tell.

"No, thank you, we don't want food, sir; but couldn't you take an' write
A sort of 'to be continued' and 'see next page' o' the fight?
We think that someone has blundered, an' couldn't you tell 'em how?
You wrote we were heroes once, sir. Please, write we are starving now."

The poor little army departed, limping and lean and forlorn.
And the heart of the Master-singer grew hot with "the scorn of scorn."
And he wrote for them wonderful verses that swept the land like flame,
Till the fatted souls of the English were scourged with the thing called Shame.

O thirty million English that babble of England's might,
Behold there are twenty heroes who lack their food to-night;
Our children's children are lisping to "honour the charge they made-"
And we leave to the streets and the workhouse the charge of the Light Brigade!

R. Kipling