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Mar 20

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The Powerpoint Ranger

It’s an Army thing: I’ll try to help you understand…

Just like any sociocultural group, the military is full of misconceptions and stereotypes.

Don’t scoff, you’ve got them too…

Though you won’t see articles about it in your local paper, there exists more than one kind of, “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy in the military.

I’ve got friends who don’t want their secret known.  Me, I really don’t give a damn.  It’s who I am.

When you think of an American Soldier, do you envision a five foot four, bespectacled and pasty white, techno-geek?

Well, that’s me, and guess what…

I’m a Soldier.

(See, I told you, you had them.)

Oh, yes–I do have an M16A2, and I am wearing the latest in fashionable hi-tech body armor–but you won’t ever see me on the cover of the next Tom Clancy novel.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind.  I know what popular opinion thinks a Soldier ought to look like–and that doesn’t bother me.

At least, not from those who don’t know any better: not from a civilian.

But if you’re in the military, you already know there are  as many different kinds of Soldiers as there are people.

And that’s what really grinds my gears…

"Deadly Double-Clicker"

I’m not a PowerPoint Ranger.

Just like every other Soldier out here…I left my family, my friends, and my home to defend my country. Sure, I may not have a katana (or a lance and a 200 lbs. suit of plate mail) but that doesn’t make me any less a Soldier; any less a warrior; or any less capable of protecting myself and my comrades.

You don’t have to be big and tall to be a warrior–not anymore.  Not on the modern battle field.

In fact, those things are more likely to get you killed…

You’re just a bigger target.

And that is perhaps the crux of my problem.

The modern military culture hasn’t yet been able to keep up with the rapidly changing technology of modern warfare. Even though it’s been hundreds of years since we’ve had to swing swords around; there is still this gun-ho, machismo, death by testosterone mentality permeating today’s military.

Did you know, a seventy-five pound woman can be just as deadly on the urban battle field–as a six-foot five, three hundred pound, beef cake commando?

Marksmanship is a heck of a lot more important now, than how much you can dead lift.

Just ask the Israeli defense force.  Women in their armies have seen decades of combat now.

There still seems to be this popular misconception that to be able to fight, you need to be big and strong.  In-spite of an enormous amount of evidence to the contrary.  Check out Royce Gracie in the first four seasons of UFC, and watch him completely dominate opponents twice his size.

If you still think being big and strong matters, just check out the news.

Do you think the insurgents we fight with on a day-to-day basis in Iraq and Afghanistan can do one-handed push ups?  Maybe they can.  After all, we’re still fighting them after eight years, and billions of dollars.  Does that mean every one of them is a potential stand in for a Schwarzenegger commando?  That they can all heft a .50 cal machine gun one-handed, and never run out of bullets?

Or is there another explanation?

Or how about those wimpy looking Somali pirates in their battle dinghies?  Or those child soldiers in Africa? Do you think they aren’t dangerous?  Just because they don’t grease their cheeks with camouflage, and don’t have a razor-sharp K-Bar clenched between their teeth?

"Arghh, maties. Me arm is tired...who wants to paddle now?"

Go ahead and smile…

It might be funny to think of those kinds of opponents as credible threats.

Until you meet one.

All I’m saying is that this macho gun-ho, might-makes-right military is on its way out the door.  Our enemies no longer look like Spartans or barbarians.  They can look like anyone–and often are anyone.

To all those eleven Bravo’s out there, I’m not implying that I’m an infantryman.  I’m not, and I know it.  And in fact, I really don’t mind being called a POG.

In the military you have to shovel a lot of shit; and infantrymen usually wind-up being the guys who end up having to eat it.  I respect infantry soldiers for what they do.  Just as I do for those with Ranger tabs, or in Group.  I can’t ruck 15 miles at an airborne shuffle–I realize that.

But only one out of every ten Americans can even pass the physical and mental testing required to be Soldiers.  Even fewer can pass the background check.  And of those remaining, only a handful will ever raise their hands to volunteer.

No, I’m no Rambo.

But compared to the average out-of-shape American with no combat training, I’m on a whole different level.

Yeah, I may be a geek–a nerd.  But I’m also a Soldier.  I get deployed, just like you.  I wear body armor in 125 degree deserts.  I’ve carry a “musket” (M16) over my shoulder for a year at a time.

When you and your battle buddies come into my commo shop with a chip on your shoulder, and a busted SINGARS radio in your hand, I really don’t care if you don’t think I’m a real Soldier.

Yeah, I might not be able to kick down a hundred doors a day, round-up 50 insurgents, and find 15 weapon caches on three hours of sleep.  But the next time you’re taking fire, and need to call for air support–or one of your buddies needs a nine-line medivac–ask yourself exactly how you would go about doing that…if your COMMS didn’t work?

I respect you for the danger you put yourself in; and the missions you carry out.  But don’t get pissed at me because you chose to be an infantryman.

Like you, I’m also saving lives.  Only difference between us is I do my lifesaving with a multimeter and a soldering iron.

Remember that the next time I’m fixing your radio…

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Permanent link to this article: http://peterusagi.com/2011/03/20/the-powerpoint-ranger/

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