Wednesday, June 25, 2003

It's one thing for me to sit here at home and bitch and moan about how bad things seem to be going in Iraq and quite another to hear what our guys are having to put up with in that hellhole. To that end, go over and check out some of the letters from GIs in Iraq at David Hackworths webpage:

From: Pissed off Army Officer-

While the Army did a great in winning the war, what is not being covered is how broke the Army logistics system is and the damage it is doing to the long term readiness and moral of the Army. The Army seems to have this NTC rotation mentality, which consists of fuck it live in the dirt and filth you only have to be here for a month. That works at NTC, but it seems no one has thought of how to sustain an Army in the field for weeks and months at a time. The answer has always been, "after a month or so, we will contract with the locals for everything."

The problem is that outside of a few areas in Kurdistan and the north, Iraq is so poor that there is nothing to contract for. Moreover, we don't trust the locals enough to contract with them even if they did have something of value. Units all over the Army came to Iraq without basic things necessary for life support in the field. I a m talking about portable shitters with cans that you can burn. You can't live somewhere and have everyone shiting in cat holes for weeks at time. Units came here without tents. The 855th MP Company, a guard company from Arizona was allowed to mobilize without any tents. They lived on the ground in the most God aweful piece desert you have ever seen for over two weeks. Units came here without proper heaters for the water in their MKTs, so that when they started serving T rats, they didn't cook them enough and didn't clean the serving treys properly and everyone who ate from there got sick. If its not a life or limb issue, its nearly impossible to get medical care.

Soldiers get literally hundreds of flea or mosquito bites and they can't cream or benedril to keep the damn things from itching. The army issued mosquito netting, but didn't give anyone any poles for their cots, so the stuff is basically useless. I am not talking about bringing in the steak and lobster every week. I am talking about basic health and safety issues that continue to be neglected by the Army. Even beyond that. If we are going to be here for a year, we need to start thinking about MWR and R&R for people. You can't just lock people up in a compound and feed them T-rats and MREs for a year and exect them to be as effective at the end as they were at the begining. To my knowledge no one has given any thought to any kind of pass or MWR activities for soldiers. Division staff sits around in their air conditioned vans watching sattilite AFN goffing off on the internet and just don't give a shit about anyone else.

Meanwhile, soldiers are living in the dirt, with no mail, no phone, no contact with home, and no break from the daily monotony at all. I went to a division rear in May and practically got in a fist fight with this Captain up there over letting my private, who hadn't contacted home since we left the U.S., send an e-mail over his office's internet. This clown spends his days sending flowers to his wife and surfing the net and he won't let my private send an e-mail to her husband. Fucking discraceful and all too typical of today's army.

Then this:

I am a senior enlisted soldier in the Army, and I have a few points of view I would like to discuss in this forum with the intentions of confirming or alleviating some misnomers that I have seen communicated recently.

I would first like to both confirm and dispel some of the misunderstandings concerning logistics in Operation Iraqi Freedom. It is absolutely true that the logistical portion of the campaign was the biggest downfall both in planning and execution. The biggest travesty is, while there was an obvious miscalculation of what it would take to support us on the battlefield, there was little to no evident planning for sustaining the soldiers upon completion of the main war effort. Here are some prime examples that cannot be disputed by any twist of fact or camouflaging by the "spin doctors" in public relations: the [supply] system is turned on, but with the amount of soldiers in theatre and the subsequent amount of equipment that require repairs, not a single repair part has made to our vehicles to date. (This system applies to the units that have received follow on missions to places like Fallujah.)

....During operations, it seemed impossible to maintain our necessary supplies of water and food. We all carried five days of supply with us at LD with the intent of utilizing it only in an "emergency" situation. The problem being that because our logistics lines were so poor, we had to break into them during the trip rather than in an established emergency situation.

....The movement to the objectives was pure chaos. It was poorly orchestrated and executed. I was witness to several vehicle accidents, where soldiers lost their lives, that were a direct result of the "Go! Go! Go!" mentality.

....The supply lines have yet to come into fruition and simplicities such as bottled water have yet to make their appearance on a consistent basis. We have had no potable ice since our arrival. I have personally been forced to buy ice from the Iraqis so that my soldiers were not drinking hot water day in and day out. It is bad enough that they have been forced to drink water that tastes like it came straight from a swimming pool (because of the sanitization process). Don't get me wrong - bottled water is showing up, but not with anything that can be remotely considered consistent.

We are steadily providing bottled water to the citizens of Iraq though, and you can bet your next paycheck that anyone who is of any rank that allows them to work on a brigade or higher level staff position hasn't had to drink warm sanitized water lately. As a matter of fact, I have witnessed several "higher ups" in my particular unit with private shower facilities, private porta-johns, and ice chests full of bottled water and potable ice in their immediate work areas while their subordinates (meaning the soldiers) are struggling every day to get a cold bottle of water. These very same senior soldiers are living in an air conditioned room while their soldiers are trying, in vain, to keep mosquitoes from consuming them nightly, and using hoses from an Iraqi latrine stall to get water enough to maintain their hygienic needs.

Thanks to The Whiskey Bar for the link.