March 20, 2008

Name: LT G
Posting date: 3/20/08
Stationed in: Iraq
Hometown: Reno, Nevada
Milblog url: http://kaboomwarjournal.blogspot.com/

Here’s an anecdote LT S conveyed to me one night out at the Crow’s Nest over some cigarettes and near-beers. I wasn’t there to witness the following events first-hand, luckily. I probably would have done something hilarious and irrational that would lead to losing my job.

The setting: While on the grand tour of our combat outpost, Major X, a visiting field grade, picks up a stack of newspapers and engages LT S about them.

Major X: “What are these here, Lieutenant?”

LT S: “Copies of one of the Iraqi national papers, Sir.”

Major X: “Why are they here, and not being distributed?”

LT S: “Oh, we do distribute them, Sir. Every patrol that goes out picks up a stack.”

Major X: “That’s excellent to hear. I assume you’re gathering the atmospherics of this distribution?”

LT S: “Atmospherics, Sir?”

Major X: “Why yes, of course. Atmospherics. We need to check on the local-nationals, and ensure they are reading the newspaper.” (Note: While I’ve conducted no official census, I’d be shocked if more than 10 percent of the Anu al-Verona population qualifies as literate.)

LT S, purportedly perplexed: “Why would we … may I ask why, Sir?”

Major X: “Because, it’s important to find out if they are reading them. Like this article here,” finger slams down onto paper brimming with Arabic words, “ -- what is this article about? If we read it, then you could talk to the local-nationals about it, when you’re on patrol.”

LT S: “Sir, that article is about dinosaurs evolving from birds.” Awkward pause. “And Sir, in all honesty, I’m not sure that the papers we give out are really being read right now. I think most of the people use them to stay warm at night.”

Major X: “What? That's absurd! Like for blankets?”

Really awkward pause.

LT S: “Uhh, no, no Sir. For their fires.”

I’ll spare the commentary, and stick with reporting the facts. And not just because I need to start a report that CPT Whiteback delegated from the operations staff to his senior platoon leader to “construct a flow chart detailing the trends and movements of displaced persons (the politically correct term for refugees) returning to Anu al-Verona.”

Uhh … what? Say again, over? A flow chart? Couldn’t you just look it up on Wikipedia? I have a patrol I need to get to.

How we managed to win two world wars without Microsoft Office products, I’ll never know.


Using the papers for fuel? That would work wouldn't it, there must be some distance between the fully functioning field grade mental process and the "new to the world" most junior officers. To win the Hearts and Minds, focus.

the american army is awesome. on so many levels.

good thing the LT didn't report that the papers were actually being used to wipe with (i guess he wouldn't have ever gotten as far as he is were he in the habit of talking like I do:-). The local folks over there aren't accustomed to using paper for that anyway, or so it's been reported to me.

Theory: the good CPT keeps you working on these inherently ridiculous assignments because he loves you. He knows they're ridiculous, and he knows you will eventually break out in peals of nearly insane laughter. He wants you to not have to dwell on the less pleasant realities around you.

This way, you gain admittance to the lighter-than-air world of staff and flag officerdom. He's grooming you for top, I think. No, really. I think he's trying to help.

Hey! Did you get it all straightened out with your girl? You're right, distance and inattention can be a bad influence on relationships. Oh, yeah, if this gal puts up with your moody stuff and still stands by you, you better make an honest woman out of her. If this gal puts up with you, moody and long distance, and you don't honor that commitment, you are the fu*k-up.

Just sayin'

Your aren't kidding about the Army running on MS Office products. I recall one instance when they were duplicating work done by a multi-million dollar database system for tracking detainees in excel simply because they were more comfortable with excel. :)

More proof Microsoft really IS taking over the world ;-)

hahahahahahahahaha.... We were tasked to hand out those people warmers, we asked the terps what they said and he said that they were "Gay" and the news was like a month old..... Then I was reminded they had been in the CP for like 3 months..... But it was paramount we handed them out..

Oh man, you let us see the real Catch-22 of it. You have a dry sense of humor--thanks for this.

Oh man, you let us see the real Catch-22 of it. You have a dry sense of humor--thanks for this.

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