Friday, March 27, 2015

One (French) Soldier's Opinion of U.S. Troops

I've been meaning to link to this for a while. A taste:

And combat? If you have seen Rambo you have seen it all - always coming to the rescue when one of our teams gets in trouble, and always in the shortest delay. That is one of their tricks: they switch from T-shirt and sandals to combat ready in three minutes. Arriving in contact with the enemy, the way they fight is simple and disconcerting: they just charge! They disembark and assault in stride, they bomb first and ask questions later - which cuts any pussyfooting short.Honor, motherland - everything here reminds of that: the American flag floating in the wind above the outpost, just like the one on the post parcels. Even if recruits often originate from the hearth of American cities and gang territory, no one here has any goal other than to hold high and proud the star spangled banner. Each man knows he can count on the support of a whole people who provides them through the mail all that an American could miss in such a remote front-line location: books, chewing gums, razorblades, Gatorade, toothpaste etc. in such way that every man is aware of how much the American people backs him in his difficult mission. And that is a first shock to our preconceptions: the American soldier is no individualist. The team, the group, the combat team are the focus of all his attention.

It occurs to me that this is the first generation of Heinlein's Mobile Infantry from Starship Troopers (the book, I mean, not the fascists in the movie). They're not wearing powered combat suits - yet. But they are highly trained, with excellent equipment, and skilled in the martial arts from hand-to-hand to high explosives. And that was the M.I.: not grunt foot-sloggers trained only to march and shoot, but valuable and valued citizen soldiers.

If all it took to win wars was great soldiers, we'd be set. But it also takes leadership from the top. Let's get on that.