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What's the Damn Hold Up?

By       Message Stephen Pizzo       (Page 1 of 1 pages)     Permalink    (# of views)   3 comments

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It's really too bad that so few Americans today have any military experience. Because if more did have that in their past they'd have the same question I have:

"Why the hell does it take so long to train up Afghans so they can defend their own country?"

(WARNING: Old guy ahead about to launch into a "in my day" story.)

I entered Marine Corp on July 7, 1965. I was a skinny, pampered little suburban white boy. The most strenuous thing I'd done in my 18-years up to that point was mowing the lawn -- a task I considered bordering on child abuse.

When I got to MCRD (Marine Corp Recruit Depot) in San Diego I was thrown into a platoon of 79 other teen guys from all over the country. As a group we were, to put it mildly, a pathetic bunch. Some were skinny, some were fat, all were scared shitless.

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Twelve (hellish) weeks later we graduated from boot camp and were promptly and without delay loaded on big green buses and shipped up the coast to Camp Pendleton where we underwent another eight weeks of "advanced" infantry training. (The "advanced" part apparently referred to learning how to live in tents, eat Korean-war era C-rations out of rusting green cans and learning who to blow up all kinds of obsolete, taxpayer funded, military vehicles.)

So, let's see; that's three months of boot camp and less than two more months of infantry training -- five (5) months -- from slackers to whackers. After Pendleton most were shipped straight to the bloody battlefields in Vietnam. (Note: A year later, in 1966, they shortened boot camp to 8-weeks to keep up with the demand from fresh troops for Vietnam.)

Now, I understand all the "cultural" and "language" issues involved in training Afghans, that didn't face the drill instructors of my day. But then again my DI's also didn't have the "benefits" of training up a bunch of Afghans already tough as nails since most of them grew up in mud huts. dodging Russian, Taliban, al Qaeda and American ordinance.

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We went through this same foot-dragging nonsense in Iraq. Every time a member of congress asked the administration how many Iraqi soldiers were "ready for combat," they were told few. A year later when asked again they were told a few more, but still not enough.

So, here we go again, only this time with Afghans.

Some are losing patience. So, I was not surprised when it was a Marine general who finally spoke up about this:

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan, Dec 3 (Reuters) - Brigadier General Larry Nicholson is glad President Barack Obama is sending 30,000 extra troops to Afghanistan, but what he needs now is not more Americans, it's more Afghans...."I got 10,000 Marines. I have 2,000 Afghans," the commander of U.S. Marines in southern Afghanistan told Reuters.

"I get asked all the time, 'How many Afghans do you want?' I want one to one. Every time one of our squads is going out, I want an Afghan squad with it."

Here's more "irony"... those additional US Marines being sent to Afghanistan, will largely be drawn from the pool of newly minted Marines authorized less than a year ago by the Bush administration. Just a few short months ago these Marines were soft American kids. Now they're off to Afghanistan to go mano y mano with the Taliban -- who, by the way, seem to have no trouble at all quickly training fellow Afghans how to make life miserable and deadly for the much better trained and equipped Americans.

I don't get it. Why does it take so long to train up these "allies" of ours? I do know this though; if they had to face my old DI, Sgt Valdez, every morning at 5 am for twelve weeks, they'd agree to fight the Taliban just to get away from him.

Staff Sgt Valdez, center: A man not in the least interested in what might be ailing you.

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I'm just saying....


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Stephen Pizzo has been published everywhere from The New York Times to Mother Jones magazine. His book, Inside Job: The Looting of America's Savings and Loans, was nominated for a (more...)

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