Saturday, January 22, 2005

Inequities of war

In a sense, the inequities of war are nobody's fault. But, here is a good example: on NPR recently, a kid in Iraq, in a support unit, is a bigtime bird watcher. He has chronicled all his bird watching in Iraq and put it on a blog. Interesting! This is an example of the incredible ingenuity of soldiers. He has been doing this since he was fourteen and so this isn't something new. He is in the National Guard and does have a job but most of it is based on where he is in the country: a safe environment by in large, not involved in life and death struggles. In many ways, able to take his year and do something useful. He is a support soldier and in a sense has not heard a shot fired in anger. Based on his great love of birding, his year in Iraq has been great. He has made good money, comes home a hero, life is good.

Contrast this with a combat soldier in Iraq. On patrol, life on the line everyday. Seeing his buddies killed, wounded. The "birder" and the combat soldier is hardly equitable in the big picture. This isn't a putdown of the "birder" soldier. More power to him for using his year productively. But, an examble of the inequities of war.
Same in Vietnam. We had nine support soldiers for every single combat soldier. Many lived the "life of Riley" so to speak. After I came back, I met this Sergeant Major who was in Vietnam for five years. Know what his job was? Ferrying USO show girls or the local entertainers to various NCO (non commissioned officer) clubs in and around Saigon. He told me that he made so much money that when he went to his next assignment he paid cash for his house.

Why is this important? It is only in terms of understanding. All war time soldiering is not equal.

No comments: