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Grow up America

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Get your heads out of your collective asses.

Post-Apartheid South Africa: The mirror of America’s dark future.

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In about 30 years minorities will surpass whites in population in the United States. The problems these minorities associate with racism will multiply, because those problems do not in fact stem from racism. As in post-Apartheid South Africa, violent crime will skyrocket in the US. South Africa is the most violent democracy in the world.

First, the white minority will retreat to white-majority states. Living in cities with a high percentage of minorities will become increasingly tenuous. Many will be outraged by this statement. But outrage is not refutation. The facts in most cases can quell outrage, but not in the case of “racism”. Every statistic in every state shows that young black men are the most active violent criminals in the country. Is this a false statistic made by black majority Baltimore, Detroit, and Memphis, governments? Why are these stats so in almost every reporting district, and every police department?

The police will necessarily become more “militarized”. The term “police militarization” is a term in vogue. Mostly what people who use the term mean is that police SWAT equipment looks scary, much like the argument liberals made when banning assault weapons, which in fact had much the same functions as hunting rifles. For the purposes of this essay, I will define militarization as the utilization of classic military “principles of war”. Police forces will conduct some or much of their operations using these principles because as crime evolves and grows, it becomes increasingly indistinguishable from war. These principles are: OBJECTIVE, OFFENSIVE, MASS, ECONOMY OF FORCE, MANEUVER, UNITY OF COMMAND, SECURITY, SURPRISE, SIMPLICITY. 

Libertarians will continue to put the cart before the horse, obsessing about the 1% of bad police, while forgetting that 99% of people in jail deserve to be there.

German sociologist Max Weber stated that governments have legitimate monopolies on violence. In these future city-states, the police will begin to lose their monopoly on violence. Thus, as in Baltimore, increased federal security forces will be required to maintain order, such as the National Guard. Violent clashes and deaths will inevitably occur. The militarized police will eventually come to resemble the South African Special Task Force.

Welcome to the future of policing in America:

 

 

2010-2015: The Road to Burnout

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I just returned from yet another deployment, albeit a shorter one than usual. I was in South Korea for a month, and the Philippines for the same.

Well, I’m done. Those two months were two of the longest of my life, and I simply can’t do it anymore. Since mid-2010, I’ve been away from home for almost 900 days; I did the math. And this says nothing of the insane windup that comes before a unit even deploys. The operational tempo in our modern army is out of control, and no one’s tamping it back, because senior leaders are still fighting for those positive evaluation reports. They do not understand that the tempo at which the military moved for over a decade has never been matched. And it can’t be sustained.

Finally, someone noticed. 

Many people on my recent deployment told me they were getting out. The military had changed so much in such a short period of time, they’ve had enough. One airman said that in almost 20 years of service, he’d never seen worse living conditions than what we had. And we have absolutely no freedom anymore. We are locked inside small compounds, unable to explore, see a movie, or simply see sights. Today’s Army has much less freedom than it did just 20 years ago, a fact that goes unnoticed.

Our numbers have been drastically cut, and we are asked to do more and more.

My symptoms of burnout appeared shortly after arriving at my new unit in Hawaii. I’d recently returned from an 8 month tour in Afghanistan in which I did more work than i’d ever done in that span of time. Little did I know that my new unit was the busiest aviation regiment in the Army, according to the Pentagon.  I felt my work slowly grinding away at my reserves, until I reached a point where I hated the idea of getting up to go to work.  But the unit pushed people hard, and I saw how people get a prison mentality, each person for themselves, and a lack of any empathy at all. I lost interest in almost everything. I stopped reading, stopped writing, avoided volunteering for any extra work, and indeed tried to game the system to relieve pressure on myself.  The prison mentality had infected me, too.

My cynicism about the Army is something to behold. I simply do not trust it as an organization that will look out for me, but only an organization that checks the box, and says all the right things. So much of what we do, including my recent deployment, is for publicity. One of the most important jobs my section had was ensuring the unit’s Facebook page was updated with photo and that half-truths were used to paint a glowing picture of what we were really accomplishing with millions upon millions of taxpayer’s dollars. All the while America has accumulated more debt than any nation in history.  I find that disgusting. Once on this last deployment, I listened to another Staff Sergeant brag about how he kicked in the door to the room of a subordinate soldier whom he suspected was sleeping. When the soldier complained that the Sergeant’s boot struck him in the chest, the Staff Sergeant told him: “You’re lucky I didn’t cave your fucking skull in.” He made these statements to another Staff and a Sergeant First Class. So much a part of the culture is abuse of subordinates, that bragging to superiors does not pose a risk of punitive action.. That’s the fine organization I work for.

With my previous deployments, I experienced a rebound of energy upon my return. That has not happened after this last one. A central board will look at my promotion packet for E7 next month. I’ve barely had enough time to get ready, and I’m considering blowing off the whole thing, because I really don’t want to be promoted. I want to leave the Army, and have some stability in my life. I’ve given them 7 years, in wartime. They’ve gotten every last ounce of energy from me.

More money?

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If the home we never write to, and the oaths we never keep,    And all we know most distant and most dear,Across the snoring barrack-room return to break our sleep,    Can you blame us if we soak ourselves in beer? ~Gentleman Ranker, Rudyard Kipling

For the first time in my Army career, and really for the first time in my professional career, I wish I were making more money. The time I’ve been away from home for the last 4 years has taken a toll. Things that I’ve needed to do at home have fallen by the wayside during deployments, Permanent Change of Station moves, and long schools.  I just returned from 8 weeks of Army education, only to be reminded that one of my cars is in massive need of maintenance. This car sat for 3 years while I was in Germany, then endured the ridiculous winters of Fort Drum, assaulted by ice and copious amounts of road salt. Then there was the pernicious effects of amoral auto-parts dealers who take advantage of the wives of deployed Army husbands by intentionally damaging parts of the car during routine oil changes in order to garner more business. Yes, that last part happened.

My weeks at work are too long, and too inflexible. I cannot simply take a day off as most can at jobs in which they’ve earned days off. I have to go through the military leave process, a process in which a supervisor of commander has ultimate authority. There is no right to a day off in the Army. because of the extreme operational tempo and lack of manpower, things like doctor appointments, car maintenance, and simply enjoying life often go by the wayside. Sometimes I find myself so busy multitasking, that I wake up at 0300 a.m.  thinking about these things, unable to fall back asleep. There are a million things to be done at work and at home.

This morning I jumped in my wife’s car and found the battery dead. Either that or the starter’s gone. I tried charging the battery from my other car, but this failed. It did however drain my other car’s battery. Yesterday I tried to bring my car in for a brake job and an oil change and was told I’d have to bring it to the dealership on Friday. On the way back the engine began overheating. Pretty sure the coolant evaporated from the car sitting in the Hawaii sun for 8 weeks while I was gone. Guess I should have checked. A black comedy of failure.

And for the first time, I wanted more money than what a full-time job was providing me. I wake up at 0430 every workday. I’m doing physical training at 0600. I get home at 1730. I get home earlier than many others do.  I do this 5 days a week, and if I go to the field, I may work 30 or more consecutive 12 hour shifts, all without the luxury of returning to my own bed after shift or even sipping a simple beer. I’ve spent months and years away from home and things deteriorated while I was gone. Frankly, I’m tired of it. One young Lieutenant in my office is worked to the bone.  I actually feel the scope of my responsibilities and performance outstrip what I am paid. But that’s not really why I want more money. I want to make more money so I don’t have to worry everyday. I want to make more money so I can concentrate on my job.  Plus I’d like to have some energy to enjoy my off-time. Right now my time off is spent just as a starving man spends his time when he finds a pile of food: He gorges himself on what he’s lacked for so long. For me, I’ve lacked significant decompression time. So I do none of the things I used to do. When I first arrived at my unit, I experienced severe burnout, the likes of which I have never felt in my life. I lost all interest in reading the news, in politics, in anything to do with the Army. I’d just returned from Afghanistan a few months prior, and moving to Hawaii added a huge amount of stress. A person is expected to perform flawlessly when they show up to a new unit. I’ve never seen it work that way, though. And I work at one of the busiest units I have ever seen. So many of the people around me are burned out. Many officers want to leave the Army, an unusual phenomena as from my experience officers are usually happy-go-lucky, All Army types. Lifers, so to speak.

I get my first look at E7 in June of next year. But the centralized board promotion system for senior NCOs often seems like a crap shoot. E7 would be a significant pay increase. I hope I make it, though maybe that rank is too much for me based on my time in the Army. In any case, some say that the minute money is the reason for being a Soldier, it’s time to leave. Not sure I agree, but I understand the point.

At this point, the military is taking more from me than I feel I’m getting. I need for freedom and flexibility, not only more money. At the 8 week school from where I just returned, I need to do  “risk assessment” paperwork and send it up through the chain of command, just so I could go hiking on the mountain trails a few miles away from my barracks. Supervisors everywhere in the Army need to inspect Soldiers’ cars before every long weekend, filling out paperwork to document the inspection. I need to do online training and fill out paperwork just to drive beyond a certain distance from my post. That’s not freedom to me.

Military discipline is enforced first and foremost by the employment of fear. This, too, takes a toll. One grows weary of worrying about walking on the grass, having his hair touching his ears, or being one minute late to a formation. And in the Army, these things take precedence over many important skills that a Soldier may have.

Pride, envy, cooperation and competition

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I graduate next week from the Army’s Advanced Leadership Course. I’ll have been here 56 days at that point.  I’ve learned a lot, and was successful; I graduated on the Commandant’s List, which is the top 20% academically of the over 200 NCOs in my class. The cadre evaluated our oral and written communication skills, as well as critical thinking and leadership ability.

But one thing in particular bothered me after a few weeks here. The competition between members of my platoon after about two weeks degenerated into back-biting and jealousy. One person told me that he felt our instructor showed favoritism toward me because on several occasions the instructor indicated to the class that I was doing well. I tried to quell the subtle and growing animosity by some by remaining humble and being helpful to them whenever I could. This mostly worked except for a few, who became particularly spiteful when they learned they were not chosen for Commandant’s List. I myself did not make it a goal to be on the list, only to do the best I could on each project and to project a personality and skill that would make people want me on their team, should they have to choose. The Commandant’s List was not only a construction of the cadre, but also of peer reports on the most capable in the class.

To be sure, there were many in the class who did not express jealousy or envy, which I find to be one of the most repugnant emotions in existence, particularly when displayed by men. Jealousy is an open admission of weakness and lack of self-confidence. if I find it growing in myself, I smash it down and look in the mirror to see the ways I can improve myself as opposed to wasting energy picking at someone else. Of course there are times that criticism of others is valid and needed. but tact and courtesy should be employed in those cases.

Looking back at my younger days and considering the effects of competition, I realize one of the reasons I did not perform well in junior high school was that I hated competition with strangers. I preferred a feeling of cooperation and camaraderie. Perhaps it was because I was searching for a family, a clan. At some point I had to toughen up. I began lifting weights and became very physically active. Slowly, my aversion to competition faded.

The first really difficult thing I ever did as an adult was attend the US Border Patrol Academy in Charleston, South Carolina. There, I was surrounded by people who’d had much more exposure to competition than I. Many people at the Academy were military veterans; I had a college degree and worked at a corner store at that point. Certainly nothing that challenged me, or made me take pride in myself. In the first half of my time in the Academy, I struggled. I didn’t put in the needed study time that’s required to learn a foreign language, as well as federal law. But at some point, things clicked, and I shot up in my class ranking in language skill. That was a turning point in my life. Never again was I to struggle in any academic setting.

Colonel Jeff Cooper said that pride was a key component in a good soldier. I agree. Pride drives us to despise being last. But I still place a high degree of importance on sportsmanship and humility. When we lose, we should gracefully give credit to our competition. This builds the team, the clan, the family. In the end we make ourselves more successful in doing this. Too much pride breeds envy, the feeling that somehow we deserve more than perhaps we do.

Quick post on the Islamic State

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Won’t have time to delve deeply into the problem of the rampaging Islamic State. Suffice for now to say that my way of dealing with them will surprise many. What to do? Ignore them for a year or so. Force Europe to do something. Europe will do something. Don’t doubt that in the secret cabinet meetings in Berlin and London, the discussion orbits around how to get America to do what is both distasteful and needed. Per usual. Then they can point fingers when things get nasty.

I’ve said before, time to pull back and let the kids go to bed without supper. Deprivation feeds appreciation.