So You Support the Troops?
Since writing the widely-published poem "Fightin'
Words," I've had some emails and posted comments indicating
the belief that I'm just another rightwing, media-hating nutcase
with an ax to grind. Actually, I'm more of a moderately conservative
nut case and I'm not against the media as a whole, just some segments.
Nor am I against all combat reporters. Kevin Sites, a reporter
of recent notoriety, has one of my poems, "The
Sheepdogs," on his website,
and I have seen a few comments on various blogs that the very
presence of my poem, which is a tribute to our warrior class,
is evidence that Kevin truly does support the troops.
I also have written an essay
quoting a reporter embedded with the 101st Airborne during the
invasion of Iraq that is quite respectful of his wisdom and insight.
But, yes, it is true: I do have an ax to grind, although it would
give me greater satisfaction to metaphorically bury it in a few
carefully coiffed talking heads. You see, what I'm wholeheartedly
for is the troops, and not in the sense that most liberal Americans
profess to be, in that they believe they are demonstrating their
support of the troops by calling for them to be brought home and
removed from harm's way. If that's what you call supporting the
troops, then take it from an old trooper who's been there and
done that, the troops don't see you as supportive at all. They
see you as undermining their mission, which is to go in harm's
way, with deliberate intent to prevail by force of arms.
What the troops perceive as support is hearing you cheering not
jeering when they are seriously kicking the butts of jihadi terrorists.
So, on behalf of the troops you support, it's with you peace-at-any-price
liberals and your synergistic media pals that I have an ax to
Warriors don't train endlessly and exhaustively to be withdrawn
ignominiously from the battlefield before they can implement that
training and achieve victory, simply because a well-intentioned
but weak-willed segment of the citizenry can't abide the losses
that the warriors themselves understand as necessary and sustainable.
Not infrequently, troops are killed
in the course of their rigorous training programs. Do you not
suppose that if they are able to accept the deaths of comrades
during training and continue to soldier on, that they probably
suspect that they and others may well perish in the accomplishment
of the mission for which they trained? Anyone who's ever served
with such men knows the easy answer to that; and unlike certain
weak-willed civilians, warriors do not shrink from this reality.
So yes, our troops do expect losses, and while they indeed mourn
their dead, they accept those deaths and honor the fallen by completing
the mission and killing those who killed their brothers in arms.
And that includes making sure, very sure, absolutely certain that
there is no question the bad guys are truly dead, totally, completely,
100 percent dead, on the highway to their hedonistic Hell, where
multitudes of virgins await them, but, alas, no Viagra. They want
to die for Allah? Then by all means, help them observe their faith,
and if a bullet to the brain is needed to insure their fealty,
so be it.
What warriors can't accept is the constant, backbiting hyper-criticism
by puerile pundits who have no idea of what it is to be in the
midst of an intense firefight. These elitist expositors, pontificating
from their safe havens, have the temerity to admonish the troops
for failing to adhere to the media's interpretation of the Geneva
Accords and some silly, schoolboy sense of fair play they harbor.
Guess what, girlie-men: in ground combat, there is little time
to think about inapplicable treaties or the rules of fair play
learned by gentlemen “on the playing fields of Eton.”
Fair play in war is a construct of fools who think of combat as
sport, fools who have never faced uncontrolled mayhem in which
their lives can be snatched from them in the first moment of weakness.
In a firefight what you desire most is fire superiority. You want
to be throwing so much s**t at them they can’t possibly
throw any thing back without getting hit. You want it to be totally
one-sided for your side. There isn’t anything fair about
it at all and there shouldn’t be. Of course, it is seldom
that easy, that one-sided, but you can damn well bet that’s
the way the troops and their commanders want it to be. You try
your best to make the rules all work your way, so it’s Chuck
out of luck, not you. Tactical rules of engagement are fluid and
ultimately determined by those immediately engaged and those in
control of the battlefield, not some snide network know-it-all
or some corrosive columnist at the New York Times.
My poem, "Fightin' Words" is about those in the media
who report on war but have little understanding of the intensity
and immediacy of ground combat. Hell, most of them never gain
enough understanding of the military system to get the military
ranks and unit structures reported correctly. Yet these blow-dried
blowhards want to tell the professional warriors how to fight?
Look at it this way: if they were sports reporters covering a
football game for their local newspaper or television station,
they might second-guess some of their home team's play-calling,
but they wouldn't be complaining if their team was getting away
with holding on every play, or tripping, or face-masking, or committing
other fouls against the opposing team, would they? Nope, they’d
keep their mouths shut and hope the officials didn’t call
the infractions. Nor would they be demanding their team be pulled
back into the locker room and forfeit the game just because of
a few blown plays or a few serious injuries to some of the key
players. Hell no, they'd be exhorting those players to stay out
there and fight, to get tough, play hard, play rough and not come
off that field with anything less than a victory.
Now that’s supporting the team, right? So why can't these
oh-so-smart liberals and the see-all, know-all, decide-all-for-you
media, see it’s the same way for the troops? No wonder they
Vaughn is the Poet Laureate of The
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