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My Retort



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From my air power guy to military guy:

Well.

I think I’ll take John Jumper’s tack and just sort of let it slide. Or not….

Yeah, we live better in most instances, but there’s a reason for that. People like to be comfortable. If I take pains to be that way, because I can, are you going to shoot me?

It also makes sense…well-rested pilots perform better in the air.

V Corps recognized this early on in Albania in 1999. The first to be elevated out of the mud in Tirana were…the Apache crews. The first to have their quarters improved the the Brown and Root engineers were…the Apache crews. I thought that was smart and I still do.

The late Gus Pagonis, may he rest in peace, the 3-star who ran the Army’s logistical effort in the first Gulf War, wondered why a country that can put a man on the moon couldn’t make a more concerted effort to make soldiers’ lives more pleasant while in the field. Good question.

Institutional culture probably has a little to do with it but, to be fair, it’s also the mission…one has to balance comfort with mission priorities and often the former takes a back seat to the latter. My hat’s off to all the ground guys, Army, Marines, etc., and the Navy and Air Force guys who go with them down range (I was one, but I had NCOs and Airmen way had WAY more miserable conditions than I ever did). They’re racing across inhospitable terrain, under fire and with very little sleep. The creature comforts are usually too hard to do until you stop for enough time to take care of things like that.

They’re all shit-hot troops (fighter pilot term) and if I could wave a magic wand that gave them all bulletproof, air conditioned MOPP suits and martini dispensers on the back of the Bradleys I would (OK, maybe not martinis, but gatorade at least). But I can’t.

That said, I wouldn’t want my pilots to live any more uncomfortably than they have to…and if I had Army guys as neighbors, they’d get as much as the bennies (air conditioners, showers, cable TV, field BX/PX, whatever) as I could muster. They deserve it. They ALL deserve it. And because they do what they do without most of it, they’re heroes all the more.



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