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

Jun 10, 2009

Sergeant Majors, ASV's, and Burning Bibles...

So I guess that I need to describe the events of the past couple of days. Not only to let you guys know what sort of shit we have been doing, but also to help me sort them out in my own head. Which in my eyes is more important. Don’t need anymore psychos in country.

So the other day we got up to Salerno. Its like Sharana on steroids. Just take everything that I hated about Sharana and multiply it by 5 and you have Salerno. I mean they have wireless internet here in the tents. Now don’t get me wrong. I got it. And I use it. But it doesn’t change the fact that I am conflicted about it because I know that right now as I sit here in the relative comfort and luxury of Salerno there is some young GI out there who is ankle deep in water and hating ever having enlisted as he sits in the cold Afghani night on top of some mountain somewhere waiting for the inevitable. I been there, I’ve done that. It still doesn’t change the fact that I don’t like being here when he’s there!

We then proceeded to link up with the guys that we are replacing. They had a mission planned for us. The one that I wrote the ‘news’ post about. We went out to familiarize ourselves with our area of operations. We went out to see what these district centers are all about, so that we know what we have to get accomplished before we leave here.

And holy shit, do we have a lot of work to do in a very short period of time. Elections are coming, and we have to get these centers to the point where they can provide the people with an infrastructure that can support a massive election.

So we got out to the district center that my squad will be dealing with. Of course ours is the furthest one out. Takes about an hour and a half to drive to from where we are sleeping. Fun for us. The good part is the whole drive is on hardball roads, which I haven’t seen in a long damn time. I cannot even begin to explain the wonder that is pavement. You’ll never understand until you’ve had it taken from you for a few hundred days.

Anyway, we get out there and where the police station and district center are supposed to be...they aren’t. They are set off the road about 250-300 meters.

Why are they set that far back off the road?

Well, the Taliban got pissed about these things being right there. So they parked a really big car bomb right in front of the fucking thing, and blew it right off the face of the earth.

So, thinking quickly, the police rebuilt the center as far off the road as is humanly possible. Thank the good Lord that there are at least a few rational thinking humans in this country.

It is kind of weird now though, we are in a city. Not a city like Americans are used to, but a city by Afghani standards nonetheless. I mean there are buildings here that exceed 3 stories.

Anyway, we visited this place just to get acquainted with the Afghans we are going to be working with. Nothing really to tell, except for the fact that our center only has six cops. You would think that with a war going on, and nation building occurring they would pop the dough for a few extra cops. But I digress.

The part that bugged the shit out of me was what happened before we went out on this mission. Now we all know what my opinion of the majority of the military leadership is so there is no need to rehash all of that. But what happened simply served to reinforce my attitudes.

There is a vehicle called an ASV. Armored Security Vehicle. Or a baby tank! Basically, it is a big, rolling machine of death. Fun for me. This thing is totally sealed when you roll out. There are no openings in this thing anywhere. Just a big block of armor. The turret is like a tank’s. No way for anyone to shoot into the vehicle. No way for anything to get in from the outside unless the troops inside decide to let that thing in.

That being said, in other vehicles, that have openings, you have to wear all your personal armor. Your vest, your helmet, your eye protection and all the other shit that the Army gives you that make your life absolutely miserable, but will in fact save your life. Down south, where we came from, you don’t have to wear that shit inside of an ASV. Why? Because there is no way for anything to get in. And besides, anything that can penetrate an ASV will also penetrate your personal armor, making wearing your shit inside this thing a moot point.

Not up here.

So here we are getting ready to go out on this mission, and I am in charge of an ASV crew. I am loving life. This is the best vehicle to get. You don’t have to jump out every time we stop. You are in charge of providing security for all the other vehicles while they do all that shit. You just have to monitor the radio, check all the computers, and keep your gunner watching what’s going on. Basically, you just have to sit and watch. And you don’t have to wear the 80 pounds of shit that everyone else has to wear. Which makes your life that much better. Just sit, watch, and enjoy the air conditioning!

Another thing about an ASV. They are huge vehicles. But they are huge because of how thick the armor is and how big the engine has to be to move this heavy ass truck. I mean, I have seen an ASV have an IED go off right under the rear tire. The tire blew right off the axle, and flew 300 meters (by the way, ASV tires weigh around 300 pounds so think of the force required to propel a 300 pound object 300 meters.) When we grabbed the tire there was no damage to it whatsoever. The only thing that was wrong was the lug nuts were destroyed and the mounts were stripped. The tire was fine, perfectly usable, not even fucking flat! These are tough, tough trucks. But like I said, due to the size of the engine and the armor, the interior passenger compartment is a little tight to say the least.

And if you’ll all remember, I’m a big boy! So I am not particularly comfortable in this damn thing anyway.

Now we are sitting there just waiting for the trucks to roll out so we can get on with our day. Then this old fart walks out of the building in front of us. There are very few ranks that old farts hold in the military. None of them are good.

This particular old fart turned out to be a Sergeant Major. The worst of all. The biggest pain in the ass the military has ever manufactured. The enforcer of standards, the ender of private’s lives, the chewer of ass, the hander outer of push ups, the biggest dick on the FOB.

So anyway, our other ASV crew was climbing into their vehicles. The sergeant major saw them, and lost his mind. Ran over and started interrogating the crew chief of this vehicle.

What is this? What the fuck is his problem?

Well, he doesn’t like the fact that we were about to roll out without our armor on.

Hey, its an ASV, you don’t have to wear your body armor in the thing. You’re totally protected. Besides, have you ever tried to get into one of these damn things. Its hard enough when you’re naked, and covered in baby oil, much less when you have all that shit on.

Besides that, you’re a sergeant major, don’t you have anything better to do than worry about what the fuck we are doing. This is the way we have been doing this shit for months. Now you come along and tell us we’re wrong. Who the fuck are you?

Oh, you’re our new sergeant major. You are in charge of all this shit, and you decide whether or not our lives suck for the next few months.

Of course you are, why wouldn’t you be!

Now we have successfully pissed you off without even knowing who you are. Now we have successfully turned our lives into shit without even knowing who we were talking to. Fun for us.

Well Sergeant Major what are you going to do now?

Oh, take a microscope and shove it up our asses. Find every little thing you can that we do wrong and magnify it until you make it seem like the fact that we put something other than our rank on our vests that we are going to lose the war. So that’s what you are going to do?

I have a question, were you abused as a child?

Okay, so now that he is done with that. And its the day after our little mission out to the district centers. We now move on to the awards ceremony.

What is everyone getting? Combat Action Badges.

The one thing that I would have loved to leave here without. But I still can’t help but love the fact that I got it. Back to that whole conflicting ideas in the same head thing again. I am getting a headache.

So we all got hauled in front of a sergeant major. And a Lieutenant Colonel. At least it wasn’t the sergeant major that just got done ripping us a new asshole.

And he gets up there and tells us what a fabulous award the CAB is, and that we should all be proud, and blah, blah, blah. All of which I suppose, is true. However, its the same shit at every awards ceremony. You have brought great credit to yourself, the unit, and the United States Army yada yada yada.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m obnoxious, and an attention whore, so I enjoyed the whole formation and hearing my name and getting the award. Yet I couldn’t help but hear the words of my buddy J from way back before we got deployed. “If you try to kill people in mass quantities and blow a lot of shit up in the civilian world, you would be arrested and either imprisoned or committed. You do the same thing in the military and you are given a medal!”

I don’t care what you think of war and/or the military that is some ironic shit.

So here I sit the morning after the awards ceremony writing this. Listening to that song, “Get an ugly girl to marry you!” Or whatever its called. I was thinking about how to close this out and get on with my life when something happened. Something that is going to make this post just a tad longer.

If there is one thing I hate about the military, its the stereotype that military guys are stupid. I’m not stupid, most of the guys aren’t stupid. I mean there are a few who are dumber than a box of shit, but they are in the minority, a large minority, but a minority all the same. But the problem is there are too many stupid guys, and these stupid guys have really big mouths.

So here is what they are spreading around this morning. Making the rounds through the PNN (Private News Network or more accurately the ‘rumor mill’) is the story of President Barack Obama burning soldier’s bibles.

They ran around telling anyone that would listen that Obama was a muslim, and was declaring islam the official religion of the states, and that the military was seizing soldier’s bibles and burning them.

Okay, a little extreme. So I sort of looked at them like the retards that they are. And I figured I would practice a little intellectual superiority and make them feel like dip shits. I mean if you are going to run around spreading a fantastical story then you better make sure its true.

Well, I ran and checked and, and got the real story of what they are talking about.

The US military did seize and destroy some bibles printed in the Pashtu and Dari languages. They were seized from some military men and women, Chaplains included who were using the bibles to proselytize to the Afghani population in their area of operations. They were seized because the soldiers were violating a slew of general orders that the military gives us when we get here.

Religion is a big deal here. And if we were to start trying to convert all these hajis to Christianity we really would have a holy war on our hands. So the military specifically tells us not to talk about religion with them and certainly do not evangelize with these people in any way, shape or form.

That violation of orders is what got these bibles confiscated by the military.

And when did this happen? Under President George W. Bush (Definitely not my favorite person)

Now whatever you think of the president, I don’t give a shit, he’s the president and you’re going to deal with it. But the military makes me laugh in that you have people who are actually susceptible to this sort of shit. They could actually hear that, process it, and believe it! How the fuck has natural selection not weeded these dumb mother fuckers out? And why do they all seem to gravitate toward military service?

And that is why I hate the stereotype, because I get lumped in with these piles of shit. But I guess I can see where it comes from.

And now I am done.


I love you Mom...

P.S. They didn’t believe me when I told them what the actual story behind their little crusade was.


  1. Almost a year and a half ago, when my youngest son older son (he enlisted in 1999) told his younger brother, "being in the miltary is all a head game, play it with your mouth shut."
    Congrats on the award, irony and all!
    You and your comrades are appreciated.
    Oh man, do I have a SGM story to tell you one day!

  2. "if you want to be happy for the rest of your life make an ugly woman your wife"....I can't remember the name of the song either, but it's a fun song. love your taste in music.
    take very good care and congratulations!

  3. As I am sure you have already figured out, this story hit our news about a month ago---the main stream media was badmouthing chaplains and right wingnuts, and in teeny, tiny print---they admitted it was an old story. Folks back home must have said something to their soldiers or asked if their Biles had been confiscated. That was probably enough to get the rumor mill going.

  4. Bibles. shoulda previewed. sorry

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