Leadership: August 18, 2003


The mass media's excessive fawning over Jessica Lynch and the other POW's from the second Gulf War is starting to have an effect on other soldiers, particularly those in the combat arms (infantry, armor, artillery, cavalry).

Maintenance units, and other combat support units, such as the one ambushed by the Iraqis when Lynch and the others were captured, are notorious for their poor soldier skills, such as weapons maintenance, map reading, fire discipline, and 'combat driving.' The main reason these skills are not as well-developed in these support units is that for years the attitude of the soldiers has been that MOS skills (those relating specifically to the soldier's specialty) are the priority, and so long as a soldier is good at ordering spare parts, or repairing generators, or processing paperwork, or issuing fuel, then the soldier skills (or lack thereof) can be overlooked. Weapons are only taken out of the arms room when it's time to qualify (once or twice a year) and land navigation is studied right before leaving for an NCO school, but rarely, if ever, bothered with again.

Combat soldiers, especially infantrymen, know that weapons maintenance is something that can save your life, and land navigation is something that's done every time the go to the field. What has the combat troops rankled about the now-infamous ambush is that all of the combat troops know units just like that one. They're always the ones that tie up the post roads trying to make 38 u-turns because the commander missed his turn reading the map upside down. They're the ones that take two days to zero their M16s (never mind trying to qualify) because the PMI never covered adjusting the height of the rear sight. And after they pull the same stunts in a combat zone, get a dozen troops killed and block a primary highway for a day while diverting other units to bail them out, the media kisses their fannies and offers millions for their made-for-TV movies.

There are no such offers for the 3d Infantry division, whose cavalry squadron led the charge across Iraq and fought in the few battles that actually took place on the road to Baghdad. No one wants to make a movie of 3-15 Infantry, the task force that was brought daily into
everyone's living rooms by David Blume before his tragic death. 

Instead, what the combat soldiers see is a screwed-up unit that got a lot of soldiers killed and is now lionized for oft-repeated mistakes. - Brant Guillory


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