The Sandbox

GWOT hot wash, straight from the wire

Welcome to The Sandbox, a forum for service members who have served or are currently serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, returned vets, spouses and caregivers. The Sandbox's focus is not on policy and partisanship (go to our Blowback page for that), but on the unclassified details of deployment -- the everyday, the extraordinary, the wonderful, the messed-up, the absurd. All correspondence is read, and as much as possible is posted, lightly edited. If you know someone who is deployed who might have something to say, please tell them about us. To submit a post click here.


April 06, 2008

Name:  Old Blue
Posting date: 4/7/08
Stationed in: Afghanistan
Milblog: Bill and Bob's Excellent Afghan Adventure

When things are constantly changing, as they have been during so much of this deployment, there is a simple motto to keep us going: "Semper Gumby". Semper Gumby is Latin for "Always Flexible".

The ancient Greeks, the same good people who invented Latin, also invented Gumby. This was proven by the recent finding of a several thousand year old Gumby at the site of the battle of Marathon.

Okay, I made that up. Except for the part about Latin. The Greeks did invent that. That part is true.

And Semper Gumby does mean "Always Flexible".

Gumby is the ultimate warrior. Norissians (Chuck Norris fans) would disagree, and cry out that Chuck Norris could roundhouse kick Gumby into next week, but that's not true. Gumby's head would go into next week, but due to his flexibility, his feet would remain in this week, and he would simply unbend himself back into the same time frame as his feet, thereby defeating Norrissian mojo.

Flexibility is the key. All else leads to insanity and pissing off the leadership, who make the plans that require the ultimate in flexibility from those who must execute them with no visible means of support.

"With flexibility comes serenity. With serenity comes power. He who is capable of bending like the Gumby will pass through great forces without shattering to overcome his foe."
                                                                                            -- Sun Tsu*

Gumby maintains an M-240 machine gun at an undisclosed FOB.

It doesn't matter what someone in a position of apparent decision-making ability says, because it will change. Rigidity in the face of such rapid changes of direction will result in cracking, peeling, chafing, and an overwhelming irritation. CRF (Combat Rigidity Fatigue) is a major contributing factor in many cases of PDCD (Post Dysfunctional Command Disorder.)

Gumby prepares to head out on another exciting patrol.

Working with Afghans also requires a great deal of flexibility. Afghans will drive the mentally rigid to distraction with their sometimes unpredictable, seemingly whimsical behavior. Gumby was heavily involved in all of our mentoring and advising operations with the ANP.

Gumby mentoring the ANP on flexibility operations.

Dealing with Afghan civilians requires a gumbylike flexibility, too. Nothing will screw up your timeline like an Afghan who suddenly decides that his 50 goats need to be on the other side of the road. Gumby is vigilant yet flexible, in order to deal with capricious Afghan conditions while on combat patrols.

Gumby maintains vigilant flexibility.

Gumbyish flexibility is a combat multiplier, which is militarese for "It makes you fight better." Counterinsurgency operations require a particular flexibility. This isn't some barren wasteland where there are only two opposing armies. The enemy here dresses in no special uniform. His forts are mud-walled khalats that look just like every other mud-walled khalat. It takes flexibility to work your way into the cracks between the average working Afghan and the local Talibs.

Gumby says, "If you can't find a crack, go in a window."

There is a lot of beauty in Afghanistan, as well as mind-numbing poverty and, of course, rocks. Gumbyish flexibility permits one the mental room to appreciate the quiet moments of combat, too. The peaceful serenity of a mountain stream is still the peaceful serenity of a mountain stream, even in the midst of war.

Gumby enjoys the peaceful serenity of a mountain stream.

If the Russians had had Gumby, the Soviet Union would never have collapsed, the Berlin wall would never have fallen, and we would all be quoting Marx to avoid being beaten with sticks. The Russians did not have Gumby, because Gumby is all-American (the part about the ancient Greeks being made up), and he demonstrates the amazing flexibility of Americans. Being made of gumbyite, the most flexibly tough element in the universe, he is the only thing that cannot be destroyed by a Chuck Norris roundhouse kick. If Chuck Norris and Gumby ever teamed up, they could conquer the known everything, and Gumby would let Chuck Norris be the emperor of everything because he is just that damned flexible. Gumby saved the free world.


"Semper Gumby!"

* Okay, I made that part up, too. I don't know if Sun Tsu ever said such a thing, but you can't prove he didn't. He just didn't write it down in his best-selling book The Art of War.


Do you remember Eddie Murphy saying "I'm Gumby dammit!" on SNL back in the '70s?

Did you realize that the original Gumby's mortal enemy was the block heads? I'll bet there are some block heads plotting to mess up your life right now. I hope and pray that you prevail against them.

That was a kid in the 80's I remeber watching Gumby after school and yes his mortal enemies were the block heads plus he had a horse as a side kick.

What a great functional alternative to Norris-mania! Here is a true exemplar for the 21st century. Thank you for sharing. :-)

LOL. That's our PGR motto too. Like when we get a "SUPER SHORT NOTICE" for an escort mission, about 6 hours ahead of KU time.

Semper Gumby!

LOL! I thought we made that up. But it was really Lao Tzu.

Gumby's a brave little guy who puts a good face on things, but clearly he needs his horse friend around to help keep his spirits up. Any chance you can arrange a transfer so two old pals can work together again?

Hey Old Blue, this is the funnies blog post I've read in Doonesbury Sandbox. Many thanks. Gonna go out get me a Gumby. It will help me keep perspective on life and a sense of humor. Semper Gumby. I will remember you and pray for you and follow your blog. I'm just a civilian. Have a nephew in Iraq - 2nd tour and a brother headed there in September. For all you milbloggers, I so appreciate your posts.

Semper Gumby!

nothing like humor to kill the boredom.

It brings back memories of all the stupid stuff I did on my 3 tours overseas back in the 80's in the navy.

But the Greeks probably didn't invent Latin, I bet it was those pesky Romans. The Greek probably spoke, well, er, Greek.

Gumby's orange horse friend is Pokey. So I'd like to see your next blog about "Semper Pokey".

Thanks for your humor!

James, Oh yea of little Gumby faith. Your not Greek are you? All Greeks know that anything worth anything comes from greece. Just ask any Greek. Ya just have to show a little flexibility.

"Semper Gumby" has been the motto of all successful military units since 2000BC.

But remember, "Duck!" is a verb when in "The Zone". Love ya' all.

And here I thought I'd invented the phrase, people in my unit looked at me funny when I said it...
retired Army, MI

You want Semper pokey? You got it!

Semper pokey! always...

tee hee

Typical American G.I. know-how. Knowing how to laugh in Hell and come out fighting. That's great-- but please, after you've finished just come home.

William Lau 10th Special Forces GRP, ret.

The comments to this entry are closed.


TrackBack URL for this entry:

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference SEMPER GUMBY:

« Previous Article | Main | Next Article »

Search Doonesbury Sandbox Blog



My Photo