They Said It Better Than I Ever Could...

These words that I write, they keep me from total insanity. -Charles Bukowski

Who is the happier man, he who has braved the storm of life and lived, or he who has stayed securely on shore and merely existed? -Dr. Hunter S. Thompson

Dec 23, 2008

The Circle Of Suck...

First let's define the circle of suck, so imagine the next four things in a circle with some lines pointing around in a circle.

1. Bad morale>>>>>>>>>>>>

2. Bitching>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

3. Angry Leadership>>>>>>

4. New Rules>>>>>>>>>>>>>

That is how it goes. Bad morale amongst the troops leads to said troops bitching which leads to the leadership being angry all the damn time because they have inferiority complexes and can't do anything about it so they get pissed and make new rules that plunge the troops further into their state of low or non-existent morale.

And the circle continues...on and on and on and on, for fucking ever.

This is the state of affairs here at my beautiful FOB right now. I mean am I the only one who has ever noticed this before? Well I know that I am not because someone wrote that up on our platoon board sometime today and guess what happened.... The leadership got mad...

And what did they do...

They made a new rule that only the squad leaders or their designee could write on the platoon board!

I mean really, these guys who are supposed to be mature, intelligent and pragmatic individuals (that's why the Army chose them as leaders) went and in response to the "circle of suck" actually decided that they would follow the circle to a T and make a new rule.

Now am I the only leader around here (unfortunately a low level leader) who thinks that when soldiers do something like this, they are not only expecting a reaction, but also trying to goad one out of you. They even went so far as to spell out the reaction that they didn't want to see. I mean they LITERALLY spelled it out. And the leadership was still unable to take the hint and possibly do something that would've positively affected morale here. Nope, they decided that they would just make another rule.

Fucking dickbags. (My apologies for the language) Now, I love the Army, I just hate the people that run it and I am really beginning to question the vetting process used to determine and choose leaders in said Army. I mean where do they find these people? Do they actually hold recruiting sessions at "Grade school bully survivors" meetings? I could actually see the recruiting slogan. "Hey, he bullied you in school, now you can bully him” And pick up every small minded, ego maniacal, Napoleon complex having, piece of monkey spunk they can find and make them into officers. But now I am done about that, I do believe that that was enough vitriol for today. Some of them are really good. Most are nothing more than average, and some of them are just really bad. Unfortunately, their badness is amplified by the power of their position. A bad soldier can be lead, motivated and educated. A bad leader just causes trouble than they are worth. (Oxygen thieves, the lot of them)

So what else is going on? Well we have been making steady contact with Mr. Taliban Man, and he is really starting to get on my damn nerves. I wish he would just come out and fight, but given the numerical, technological, and training superiority he is facing I guess there is no real alternative for him. But it still pisses me off. However, I did just finish reading a military history of Afghanistan and I'll tell you what, these are some bad mama jama's out here in these mountains. I mean they waited out the armies of Alexander, they were able to withstand the onslaught of the Mongols, they kicked the British out (a couple of times), they forced the Soviets back to Russia with their tail between their legs and they survived a few decades of civil war and tribal unrest sprinkled throughout their history. I mean militarily speaking that is quite a resume. Especially since the only weapons you have are the ones that you plunder or are given to you by some rival superpower when you are fighting their chief adversary. (Read...the US when the Afghans were fighting Russia)

I guess all that I am trying to say is that someone, somewhere dreadfully underestimated these people when it comes to their resolve to not be dominated by any foreign power. The guys that live in the mountains could give a shit less about he government; all they care about is the Koran and their tribal elders. The government means little if anything to them. The only place that the government really means anything is in the cities. Out in the mountains, these people are on their own, and I'll tell you that is just they way that they want it. Which I have to say is admirable. I cannot help but have a small tinge of envy for the way that they live their lives.

I have always said that I was born in the wrong epoch of history. I would've been better suited to medieval times, or maybe the days of the pirates, or maybe back during the western frontier days of the United States. And that is the best analogy I can use to describe this place. THE WILD WEST. First of all it looks like Arizona with snow, and this place is about as lawless as the Wild West. The borderlands between Afghanistan and Pakistan have for hundreds if not thousands of years been the most lawless in the world. Tribal elders and the strongmen of any particular region mete Justice out here. Mountain passes are still taxed by whatever asshole has enough guns to control it. The people are still terrorized by bandits and what not roaming the countryside.

I guess this is what we are here to remedy. However, there is still part of me that wishes that there were someplace that I could go and live the romantic version of that kind of life. Surviving by your wits and living and dying by the gun. Don't get me wrong; I love all the little creature comforts that we have back home. Even more so now that I have had the majority of them taken away from me. But I can't help wondering if I could hack it in the life that these people have to live everyday. Pulling a life out of the desert with their own two hands and bearing their children along the way. (Last of the Mohicans reference)

But I guess I should be at least a little thankful that before I die, I was able to spend some time in the last untamed land in the world. Maybe I am romanticizing it a bit too much, probably so, but it doesn't change what this place is and it doesn't change the fact that I hope that there is always at least one place on earth that refuses to bow. That idea makes me happy.

All right, enough of that shit. What's next? The Army is scaling back reenlistment bonuses. It was a front-page article in the propaganda pages (Stars & Stripes) the other day. Why are they doing this? Well the economy has gone to shit, and we all know that there is no real problem finding meat for the grinder when the economy is in the toilet. So they scale back the bonuses because with no one able to find a job, people are going to be doing one of two things. One, flooding colleges and universities. Thinking that education, which has traditionally been insulation against unemployment, will save them. Or if they can't pull that off a bunch of them will sign up for the wonderful adventure that is military service. So given that the recruits are going to be a lot easier to get now, the Army cuts bonuses. It's the only logical thing to do. The thing that struck me as funny was that some officer said in an interview that the state of the economy has nothing to do with the bonus situation. HOLY O' SHIT, DID HE ACTUALLY JUST SAY THAT! Anyone besides me want to call bullshit?

Well I guess just about all of this stuff could be added into the circle of suck at one point or another. Anyone who would like to add their own or make up their own circle is more than welcome. I haven't copyrighted it yet.

So with that I will leave you today with a question for all the military men & women out there to determine whether or not you know your military acronyms.

What does this mean?


The first person to answer will receive a personally autographed "Embrace The Suck" poster...(kidding)

All right, I am done for now.


I love you mom...


  1. bend over here it comes again. lube non included. lorraine

  2. I meant not included. I can spell just not type. lorraine

  3. mudpuppy...I've had quite a few vets tell me, they would not enlist in "today's' military. Why? I believe you are living the answer. I'm not telling you anything you don't's all a game, simply play by the rules and by the grace of God, you will get out of there.
    Good job, Lorraine...that was my guess (except I was going to say 'a$$hole' instead of 'again')
    Please stay safe, mud puppy!
    We appreciate you and your comrades!
    Stay Strong!
    Pray Hard!

    ~AirmanMom returning to her blog...

  4. Muddypuppy,
    I have heard the same thing that AirmanMom is talking about. I think I am still naive in my old age (not that old, they say 35 is the new 25) but I have considered the military as an option in this economy (not the only reason). I spoke with a vet who was in the Navy and he told me to forget it. I understand that military life may not be, well, average at best but is it really that bad? Your present situation may be the exception to the rule. I know I should have joined the military a long time ago, but my head was not where it needed to be. Now that I am finishing school, yes I know it’s only a B.A, and that most people who go to school for 15 years should be doctors or at least have 3 or 4 degrees, I see the world in a different light. The rose color glasses have been removed for some time now. Our mutual acquaintance, the Professor, was in civil service for some time and even he does not necessarily recommend following that path. It is difficult to find a way to serve a purpose; currently a mindless drone whose only purpose in life is to make sure that stupid people get their email. People attempt to be altruistic are told by others that it is not all that it is cracked up to be. Plus now I have the other handicap, age. I am too old to do most of those things. Apparently altruism is a young person’s game. Don’t get me wrong, I do not have a bad life. I just feel the need to do something more. For now I will sit in the back corner of the Professor’s class and soak up as much knowledge as possible. And yes I realize that all you need is to read about someone else’s life dilemma when you are in the middle of hell. Sorry for that not my intention, moving on.

    In the civilian world we have the same circle of suck.
    Here is the cause that starts the circle: People afraid of losing their jobs
    1. Bad Morale >>>>>>>
    2. Bitching and finding other things to do with your work time (like read onemp) instead of working>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    3. Angry leadership >>>>>>>>>
    4. New Rules and more work that serves no purpose. I.E. catalog the number of blue pens. >>>>>>>>>>
    All circling back to #1.
    For the record as everyone knows those sub-par officers leave the Army then become civilian bosses thinking they are better than everyone else. Part of me feels the need to show some respect because they served, the other part of me finds proof that Darwin was wrong with his natural selection theory.

    Stay safe, stay strong. There are people stateside who don’t even know you but are praying for the safe return of you and your brothers in arms.


  5. Wait until you get there. Someday you'll be a leader of more people than you can reasonably manage. It may happen in the Army or in the "real world" if such a thing actually exists.

    There is a saying that NCOs teach young Lieutenants: Don't worry about your soldier's bitching. Worry when they stop bitching. The cycle you are talking about is part of that whole cycle.

    The only thing I can advise you is to try to see beyond your tower, your truck, your foxhole, and get a sense for what is going on at Platoon, Company, and Battalion Level. At each of these stages, men and women are thrown in to positions that are beyond what they have ever dealt with before. I know, I was one of them, and I have lots of friends who went through it with me, and are still going through it. You make the same mistakes that the guy did, if not last time, then three times ago. Find the line to walk between hard-ass and candy-ass is difficult for someone trying to maintain both discipline and morale. It is much harder when you don't know the soldier's you are disciplining personally. A PL should know all of his Joes. a Company CO might know all his Joes. A Bn CSM or CO doesn't know all his soldiers: there are just too damn many of them. THe best you can do is work in generalities

    Your should note the things that *really* undermine morale, file them away and don't make those mistakes when you are a higher level leader. Keep a notebook. Try to see the rationale for even the bad decisions. Be a peer leader: to Joe the most important people in the Army are the four guys in your fire team. Do what you can to keep them sharp, alert, and they will take care of you. To a team leader look to your squad leader. He's human, much as he might like to hide it. Make his life easier, cause he is the primary guy looking out for you. I'm not saying to brown nose, but to shore up the house you live in.

    It is easy to lead down. It is hard to lead up. But leading up will make it easier on those that work for you, on your peers, and on your unit.

    OK, too much advise from Fort Living room (well, corporate office). Merry Kwanzichanumas. Stay Safe.

  6. Just a quick note to say thinking of you. Stay safe and come home soon.

  7. I actually think the biggest "I was bullied and now it is my turn" are recruited into the Drill Sgt positions. LOL

    Stay Safe. We are thinking of you.


  8. Hey Mudpuppy:
    I felt compelled to finally record some comments on your blog as "The Professor" and even more importantly, as your friend.

    I read this every day. But, being over here on the rapidly approaching holiday, I have found it somewhat of a challenge to find the correct words to say.

    I am very happy to see that you are, under the precarious circumstances, doing as well as could be expected. I was proud, damn proud, to even mention that I knew your acquaintence, even more so that you were a friend and that I was able to use some of your ideas in a 300-level course. I can talk about all the theory and principle I can speak of, but when you hear something as ingenious as that from someone that is actually there, it would be remiss of me as an educator of college students not to bring said ideas to their attention.

    It is Christmas, and you are so dearly missed by me and many others that care about you. (Yes, even this husky, rough and tough former "civil servant" turned professor cares too - I am sensitive believe it or not)

    You and everyone else out there are the true heroes, the ones who VOLUNTEERED, the ones who have put their country first before everything else in your lives. I know there are problems as far as how the mission is being carried out and with the decisions made by superiors, I have first-hand experience in this myself as a former civil servant. But, it never should take away from the courage and sacrifice that all of you make every single day.

    Stay focused, stay sharp, stay vigilant, my friend. I pray for you and your comrades safe return every day, and look forward to the day of your return to do a repeat of the Mr. Roboto dance at your welcome home party (or parties, one will not be enough).

    No matter what the hell happens, you will always have my unwavering support and admiration. Period. No exceptions. This holds true for everyone else there too.

    Merry Christmas to all is definatley not the same without you here. God bless all of you and the best country God has bestowed upon this Earth, the United States of America.

    The Professor

  9. I don't know who The Professor is, but his comment clearly came straight from the heart, and touched mine. "... unwavering support and admiration....". Yeah, you've got mine too. And incredible amounts of gratitude.
    Merry Christmas.