Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Theory versus practice in a combat zone

The Marine Corps Gazette has published an interesting article titled 'What Color Are Your Socks?: It’s time To Leash Your Dogma'.  The author argues:

Those leaders who emphatically state that there is no difference between the rules and expectations for Marines between the continental Unites States (CONUS) and a combat zone exhibit a shocking lack of situational awareness. To equate the conditions and realities of Camp CONUS with camps, outposts, and bases in Afghanistan is to disregard reality. In CONUS there is no enemy doing his best to kill Marines on a daily basis, there are no improvised explosive devices in the roads, no snipers in the tree lines, and no combat pay. Marines can go home to their families at night and read bedtime stories to their children, which they certainly cannot do in Afghanistan. It is time for leaders at all levels to recognize that things are indeed different in a combat zone; a Marine doesn’t live in a mud hut or a hole in the ground and not shower for months on end in CONUS.

There, a Marine has the luxury of buying a new pair of regulation socks when his current pair wears out. There a Marine doesn’t spend hour after hour out in the sun, day after day, week after week, and month after month without respite. To reduce the hardships, dangers, and realities of fighting a real war to a level of irrelevancy subordinate to the rigid expectations of garrison life in Camp CONUS is naive and sorrowfully narrow-minded. We can, and should, do better.

There's more at the link.  It's well worth reading.

The article amused as well as interested me, because of my own experiences in a combat zone - particularly experiences with officers straight out from home, who tried to enforce barracks-style discipline and procedures among hardened combat veterans.  To say that their efforts failed is a massive understatement!  I described one such incident in a 2008 blog post, where the application of explosives to the egos of newly-commissioned officers resulted in a marked overall improvement in morale.  Go read it . . . then pass the word to any Marines you happen to know.  Perhaps, in the light of the Gazette article, they might draw inspiration from it!



Old NFO said...

This same crap happened in Vietnam too... sigh...

Anonymous said...

Amen! If it helps get the mission accomplished and protects the troops who cares?


Comrade Misfit said...

There is, sadly, nothing new in this. One need only peruse some of the World War Two cartoons of Bill Mauldin to see the same situation.