Friday, March 31, 2006

Military envy: an epidemic

You don’t have to look far to find seething sectarian strife in Iraq. Unfortunately, I’m not referring to the well-publicized spurts of violence between the Shiites and Sunnis. I refer instead to the pointless envy that exists between deployed U.S. troops.

For starters, Army troops are typically jealous of those on the Air Force side of the fence, who are deployed for much shorter periods of time, often don’t have to carry weapons around everywhere they go, and sometimes have better living conditions.

There is plenty of intra-Army jealousy to go around as well. More than once I have detected a whiff of arrogance coming from active duty troops when they learn that I am a reservist. Soldiers whose jobs require them to go off base on a daily basis have developed a new vernacular for those who remain on base all or most of the time, calling them “pouges,” “Fobbits” and Remfs (rear echelon mother F—ers). Then there are the troops in Kuwait who get the same combat pay as the troops in Iraq. Needless to say, soldiers in Iraq do not speak highly of them.

No one is quite as universally beguiled, however, as the civilian contractors, who often make more money for doing the same jobs troops do. Once, I saw a soldier walking past the Tallil headquarters of the contracting company Kellogg Brown and Root say “here’s my official KBR salute” and wave his middle finger in the air. Many a latrine in Iraq has been graffitied with slogans knocking the contracting group. One read ‘KBR: Keep Bush Rich.’

I would be speaking out of place to say everyone to quit their whining about how much worse they have it than everybody else. But I would suggest a little perspective. One thing being in the Army has taught me is there is always someone out there who is worse off than you. If you don’t believe it, read some of Ernie Pyle’s World War 2 dispatches. There are few, if any, troops in Iraq who endure the level of hardship that the troops did back then. Even the worst FOBs in Iraq have laundry facilities, showers and some form of internet access.

Instead of knocking the guy in Kuwait who had no control over his being mobilized there, it may be more psychologically helpful to count your many blessings, few as they may seem.


Blogger salemonz said...

Yeah. It's still tough hearing the civilians complain -- their gold watches, rings and jewlery gleaming.

Not that I'm hating. Bully for them scoring the work. It's just hard with all the away-from-home stress to see the other groups that got a "better" shake.

Then there are the guys at the DFAC you don't notice, enjoying their third hot meal in as many months, quietly eating in the corner.

People will trump themselves up as super hardcore, regardless of what they actually did.

But talk is cheap.

11:41 AM  

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