Wednesday, February 14, 2007

"Supporting the Troops" Means... Supporting the Troops

Major Mike

As the House begins its unnecessary, yet self-induced political gyrations on what will prove to be a number of gutless, spineless, and ineffectual resolutions regarding their visions of what should happen in Iraq, complete with the full compliment of 2008 influenced amendments, whereas’, and what-ifs; it would be prudent to take a moment to develop a list of actions that would actually “support” the men and women who are actively engaged in combat operations for this country…from their point of view…not from some slanted, poll blown perspective that is replete with re-election myopia, and covered with party driven slime.

From and insider’s point of view, THIS is supporting the troops.

1. Vote your conscience the first time; then stick to your vote.

Congressional maneuverings among the professional politikal class every two years, in their effort to cling to their prestigious and influential posts, often have the same Senators and Congressmen/women backtracking over their votes in order to preserve their political hides. When this occurs, those in the Armed Forces are disgusted by these self-serving politicos, and they expect their efforts in the field to be fully politicized in short order.

“Supporting” the troops means honoring their sacrifices by seeing through on the mission. Poll sniffing pols do not support the troops; they endeavor only to support themselves. Vascillting self-servitude, is not considered "support" in most circles, and certainly not among the rank and fiile in the military.

2. A Congressional commitment to a strong military in times of peace.

After Desert Storm Congressional budget cuts dictated force reductions for all services. Maintenance and operations budgets were slashed; weapons buying programs were metered monies that barely kept them on life support. Operational capabilities were correspondingly unable to progress from their established 1991 levels, and in many cases, capabilities were reduced due to insufficient training opportunities and declining equipment readiness rates…all budget driven.

Established capabilities require constant training, routine refinement, and equipment/weapons systems upgrading in order for our forces to sustain a sharp operational edge over our opponents. Cyclic financing and wandering (and Congressionally influenced) spending on military programs, strip our operational readiness and place our expeditionary forces at a higher risk. Formal recognition of basic operational requirements, coupled with steady funding to meet these operational baselines, is required to demonstrate a commitment to our combat forces.

3. Keep up on current events.

Know who we’re fighting. Hugh Hewitt has several times caught Congressional leaders on not knowing the difference between Sunni and Shi’a, or which is more closely aligned with us, or what the root causes are for their violent differences. It is hard to imagine that a Senator or Congressman, who is abjectly ignorant or intentionally indifferent on the issues, is sincere with his/her claims of “supporting” the troops.

Re-treading tired issues in the MSM for sound bite generation is also not “supporting” the troops…it is ignorant and self-serving. Upgraded body armor and up-armored Hummers are dead issues…so much so, that many infantry types are complaining about limited mobility on the battlefield due to too much personal armor. Troops have long ago moved on from this issue…it is time for Congressional sound bite generators to move on to something else, and quit manipulating these types of “issues” for “the sake of the troops”…the troops don’t need nor desire that kind of self-serving “help.”

Show an interest by keeping up with the flow of the situation, and act and comment on relevant issues...not those that have been dead for two years.

4. Listen to the troops, not the MSM.

There are dozens of milbloggers who are getting a starkly different message out than what the MSM hash-slingers are printing and airing…listen to the new media. These “new media” reporters, columnists, and editorialists, are directly engaged with our military everyday, and in dozens and dozens of ways. The MSM reporting of the blast-de-jour, and the US service-member body count, from the confines of NYC or some “Green Zone” safe house, is distorting the facts on the ground, and is passé in its methodology. MSM reporters, for the most part, are content with raising their glasses to one another after their “hard day” of reporting.

That some reporters have suffered injuries, or have been killed, has only driven most of them further indoors and away from significant, continuous action. It is dangerous…all the more reason that Congress understands why, and that they should get relevant information from those that have been continuously engaged…not those tagging along on Congressional junkets or three-day excursions to “boost” their credibility.

Also, invite some Lance Corporals, some Sergeants, some Captains and Lieutenants to testify in front of Congress, and instead of asking self-answering, self-serving questions, let them talk freely about their feelings…recorded…on C-SPAN. Don’t speak authoritatively, referencing some ambiguous encounter with some semi-anonymous troops, about a topic that prepoorts to speak for a majority of the troops, when the “information” was gained through some five minute grip-and-grin session at the local Guard base as you were boarding your plane back to Washington. Let the troops speak publicly themselves, and then believe them.

5. Assume some personal risk.

Corollary to above. Congressmen/women should embed themselves with the troops for a minimum of thirty days. This, first-hand experience would go a long way to bridging the divide between espousing “support for the troops” and actually understanding the needs of our troops in the field. Hopefully there will be no casualities, but is it not fair for the poltical windsocks who claim to represent the troops, to share in some of the dangers that their politically driven votes have created?

Most Congressmen/women have not spent enough time engaged with the troops to understand in detail what they need, and what they think. A few weeks of sharing their hardships will get them to cement their votes, and speak defintiviely on a way or the other. A well-cast vote, is support enough.

6. Acknowledge the threat.

The minimization of the intensity and ferocity of the threat worldwide, the complete rejection of the good that we have done in denying another training ground for Al-Qaeda in Iraq, and the over-emphasizing of the mission in Afghanistan, in making the case against our involvement in Iraq; collectively diminish the operational efforts and the collective sacrifices that have been made by our troops in Iraq. Diminishment of one’s accomplishments as compared to the gravity and lethality of the threat is not generally considered “supportive.”

7. Quit running the Ho Chi Minh playbook.

By setting timetables, publicly voicing your opposition to the efforts of our troops engaged with the enemy, threatening to counter the President’s efforts for victory, you encourage the enemy, and subsequently enhance the enemy’s efforts in the field…directly increasing the number of US casualties.

Support the troops by working behind the scenes with the President to get your views across. Talk in terms of victory, not disengagement and withdraw…we know these phrases to be euphemisms for “defeat.” Reject any talk of timetables and re-deployments. Send a continuous stream of messages that give our enemies the idea that there is zero chance for their victory, and that our resolve and focus is on a horizon that includes our ultimate success.

8. Say “victory.”

Try it…it is not that hard. The ultimate reward here is the triumph of good over evil, and victory is the measurement. For those serving, the knowledge that they were victorious would be worth a thousand Congressional resolutions commending their effort after a precipitous withdrawal and an Iraq left in chaos.

The "support" required for our troops invloves the belief in their capabilities and the profound belief in the just-ness of the mission. Anything less than that, as Congress' equivocation has aptly demonstrated, is hardly support. Believe in our military's ability to prevail over the multitude of "bad actors" who are intent on stiffling democrracy in the Middle East. Believe in the capabilities and training of our troops, and support them by believing in their ability to achieve an outcome that is synonymous with the generally accepted definitions of victory.

Supporting the troops requires a bit more effort than the assemblage of several disjointed sentences, combined with obviously incongrueous actions, and bundled together with inchoherent Congressional business-speak. It demands attention to the issues, a recognition of the sacrifices made in the defense of our nation, and a deeply sowed commitment to those who preserve our freedoms through sacrifice and sleflessness.

Support is exceedingly more than the orderly collection of five consonents and two vowels, it is derived from a sense that the greater community is engaged with your effort, believes in your abilities, and sincerely desires your success. Anything less is Congressional rhetoric.

© Michael McBride 2007


jcrue said...

From my experience during Desert Storm with the Marines I learned first-hand something that I post whenever the opportunity presents itself:

"Support for the troops is about effect, not intent."

"Support for the troops" is not supposed to make the supporter feel better, it is supposed to make the serviceman feel better.

What is happening in DC and around the country because of the (D) party does not make anyone serving feel better to my knowledge.

The only people who feel good about what the (D)s are doing are the anti-War/Bush crowd and the politicians themselves. They are last people in this country about whom we should care.

Semper Fi.

Mr.Atos said...

That's worth repeating,

"Support for the troops" is not supposed to make the supporter feel better, it is supposed to make the serviceman feel better.

What is happening in DC and around the country because of the (D) party does not make anyone serving feel better to my knowledge.

Excellent point, jcrue!!

BTW... you think any of those genuflecting nincompoops on the Hill have bothered to notice that there have been no major attacks leading the headlines for 3 days? Al Sadr and his chiefs have fled. AQ #1 & 2 have been neutralized. And Iran is watching the skies every night before it goes to bed.

The Troops, The Mission, The Nation are one package... inseperable.

Semper Fi Mom (aka MinuteMom) said...

Excellent post!

"Listen to the troops, not the MSM." Exactly!