“Can’t handle half a year without a Whopper?”


Today’s title is drawn from a comment in a Michael Yon Facebook item over the weekend:

Fast Food Purge in Afghanistan: It’s the end of the war as some people know it. In reality, there will be lots of places still open. There is a big pizza sit-down at KAF (the pizza is okay, too), and TGI Fridays and so forth. The shutdowns are limited. Most bases actually don’t have coffee shops, Pizza Huts and so forth. Only the mega-bases have such places.

It linked to this National Post article Tim Hortons escapes U.S. fast-food purge in Afghanistan. I have fond memories of the Tim Hortons on the Kingston waterfront. It was about the halfway point on our daily trek from our hotel to Fort Frontenac during the 2006 CLAW and a logical spot to stop off for our first real coffee each day.

I’m not sure if this ‘purge’ is part of the fallout from the Tarnak Bridge debacle where Michael Yon challenged the emphasis placed on maintaining the comforts of home on the FOB at Kandahar and, by implication, other mega-FOBs in Afghanistan; or whether GEN McCrystal, who maintains an austere lifestyle in Kabul, already intended to re-introduce a greater element of austerity into the mega-FOBs.

This move is longer overdue. As McCrystal’s Command Sergeant Major states “…this is a war zone — not an amusement park…” By allowing some troops more of the comforts of home, typically those groups known endearingly as REMFs, pogues or fobbits, than other troops, typically those that go out to the sharp end, ISAF has introduced a major divisive element into its force. No matter how it is spun, it is simple human nature that such a disproportionate gap in the lifestyles of various groups of deployed soldiers will adversely affect morale and cohesion.

The article also makes a couple of other good points regarding the logistic effort needed to support these comforts, In case anyone hasn’t noticed, Afghanistan isn’t well-served by shipping lines of railways – most stuff that comes in, comes in by air “…what it comes down to is focus, and to using the resources we have in the most efficient and effective ways possible. Supplying non-essential luxuries to big bases like Bagram and Kandahar makes it harder to get essential items to combat outposts and forward operating bases, where troops who are in the fight each day need to be resupplied with ammunition, food and water…

I understand that the USAF faces similar issues with its US-based UAV operators who deploy virtually to the sharp end every day but return to the mundane issues and distractions of the real world at the end of each shift. Some operators were experiencing difficulty reconciling their work life where lives are often dependent on the UAVs to the stark contrast of domestic life each evening. It is now proposed that operators will deploy on-base for a ‘deployment’ period of some weeks in order to be able to better focus upon supporting the deployed forces.

The time for deployed troops to re-acquaint themselves with the niceties of the real world is when they go on leave out of theatre. Regardless of the length of deployment, trying to recreate these niceties in-theatre, unless at a secure leave centre, is just a recipe for disaster. That BK, Starbucks et al were ever allowed to establish themselves in the FOBs is indicative of the prevalent attitude in many sectors that Afghanistan is a war in lower case only. William Tecumseh Sherman had some thoughts on what war is…

You people speak so lightly of war; you don’t know what you’re talking about. War is a terrible thing!

I am sick and tired of fighting — its glory is all moonshine; even success the most brilliant is over dead and mangled bodies, with the anguish and lamentations of distant families, appealing to me for sons, husbands, and fathers …

Some of you young men think that war is all glamour and glory, but let me tell you, boys, it is all Hell!

Similarly, that Greatest Generation that defeated the Axis in World War 2 came to do a job, get it done and then go home again. They knew what they were there (wherever ‘there’ may have been) to do, and that to get home again, they had to do the job. Charles Upham commented once, when asked why he hated the Germans so much, that he just wanted to go back to his farm. The Germans stood between him and going back  to his farm. As he saw it, the sooner they ran out of Germans, the sooner he could go back to his farm. It’s tough to maintain that kind of commitment when the war has too many comforts…

Peace in our time?

Curzon @ Coming Anarchy comments on the results of the Iraqi elections. I suppose like many others, I daren’t hope that Iraq might actually pull this one off and stay the course it appears to be on. It would at least be some return on the investment in blood…

“Militias” – racist scum with wacky ideas

Read more at The Strategist – I agree with Peter on these nutjobs and the suggestion that they be harnessed as an instrument of national power…the instrument would probably be a banjo…I’m not so sure that I totally agree re citizen militia as the distinction between these and run of the mill nutjob militia is possibly a little fine. There is a mega-gap between citizen militia, a concept that probably did its dash with the gentlemen of Walmington-on-Sea, and the citizen armies that dealt to the Axis…

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