Saturday, February 9, 2013

Lost In America; News, Weather, Zombiehood

I've had a problem with sleep for a long time now.  I've complained to my wife about it quite often...until she finally said "so damn're retired now, you don't have to be up in the morning, so sleep when you can, get up when you have to, and live with it."

So I do just that.  I have come to accept my zombihood, which is what I feel like when I get up about the time most of the younger folk are going to bed.

I guess I can start out with an early weather report.  Our warm weather and sunshine fled from us sometime last night.  I've awakened to find it's blowing cold out there this morning, so much so that when I let the doggies out they did their business quickly and return to the warmth of their beds.  Strangely, I always feel sorry for my Midwest friends and neighbors when a change of weather sweeps through Arizona.  I always know that when we get a strong rain storm, since our weather systems traditionally run west to east, my family in Missouri and Oklahoma are going to get biting cold and snow storms by the time the weather pattern reaches them.

I wrote last week of my re-read of "Vietnam, A History" by Stanley Karnow.  I related how that re-read prompted a flood of memories about my own experiences over there.  In my rush to relate the "personal impressions" I got from the book I forgot to mention two academic points that Karnow made about how differently we chose to fight that war.

From testimonials from troops who fought in Vietnam, most Vietnam veterans who served in ground army "grunt" units were dispatched to Vietnam as "replacements", rather than the traditional mode of deployment in "entire units".  Many vets said their experience in serving as unit replacements left them feeling cold and remote as they joined field units as "strangers".  They felt like they were slower to be accepted by others in their new unit which made their assignments difficult.  While I did not experience that same sense of remoteness I can certainly understand how that might be hard to take.  Those personal observations were quite poignant for me as I recall a good friend of mine, an army grunt, who died 17 days after arriving in country.  Sadly, he might have indeed died feeling remote and strange and lonely.

The second point Karnow made about the business of war fighting in Vietnam was the one year tour.  Karnow rightly points out that our fathers and grandfathers deployed overseas to fight in World War II and didn't come home until the war was settled.  Many of those deployed spent five or six years in war and never saw their family.  This raises the obvious question "could the outcome of the Vietnam war have been different if we were all sent over there and told we can only go home when we finish the damn thing?"  I believe the answer to that one is quite easy.  Because the war was micro-managed by politicians and bureaucrats in the basement of the White House, when the Air Force was told when and where to bomb by LBJ, and not from a strategic war plan, our Vietnam efforts were doomed to fail.

I have observed that our troops do far more deployments "by unit", rather than deploying as "replacements",  these days so maybe their were lessons learned from Vietnam after all.  Of course, our troops today are abused by having to perform far too many deployments but as I have written previously, this is due to the massive force cuts the military has suffered over the last twenty years.  There simply aren't enough troops to allow for fair and reasonable deployment schedules.

Finally, as I have often written about previously, I will give this to Obama:  he is finally winding down these ridiculous middle east wars.  I opposed them when Bush started them and oppose them today.  They are a massive waste of life and treasure and do little good.  A far more reasonable approach is to pre-position forces and supplies in allied countries like the UAE, Kuwait, Qatar and Saudi Arabia so that we are always capable of executing rapid responses, executing terrorist hits when needed, and stay the hell away from occupying and nation building.

Just a few "zombie musings" on this early morn.


Ken said...

It's old age creeping up on you, I know, many times I read your column in the wee hours. I enjoy afternoon naps. I wasn't quite ready for retirement but a foul injury put out of the work force. I do enjoy the creative time though.
I thank you for your service in Vietnam, that was an ugly war with an ugly outcome. I was fortunate to just miss it but many friends and family didn't and most came back very changed people and not for the better. One even killed himself. The idea of the replacements is a foul way of doing things I am glad they changed it. War nowadays, maybe it's just my age but it breaks my heart to see young men and woman with their whole life and all their dreams sent into such a hell with the possibility of never coming home. I wish people would quit beating their chest so often these days ready to go to war so easily. Oh well, enjoy the beautiful Arizona sunrise, I remember heading to work up in Payson in the early morning, it was just breathtaking. Now I'm rambling, see ya, and thanks

A Modest Scribler said...

Yes, Ken..I supposed getting old tends to disrupt our old sleeping patterns. I remember when I was a young man qnd could stay up till 2am and sleep in to noon. Haven't slept like that for thirty years.

Have a good week.