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Saturday, July 21, 2007

"The Right Stuff?"

I have long maintained, both as a veteran and as man who has past his thirties, now, that the military has it ALL WRONG in sending young men into combat.

Allow me to explain.

My fellow veterans from the Reagan era and before will be able to relate to this more, perhaps, than those who came after us in the 90's on until today. Basic training was um, a few days ago (ahem) but the memories...ah the memories.

In my day, it was not uncommon for the drill instructors to eat garlic and onions at any given meal of the day, then share the effects of said bulbs with recruits standing in formation by standing in their faces and talking to them. Loudly. At 18 that can be a bit intimidating, after the age of, oh, say 35, you're more inclined to offer said DI a tic tac.

Head games don't work on older guys the same way they work on the younger ones. Ladies, I know you'll forgive me for saying so, but by the time the average male has reached his mid-thirties, we're sort of used to people playing with our minds.


This shift in attitude works to the advantage when it comes to being a soldier, though, I think. At 18 the mind is not as adjusted to having to make a snap decision as it is when you're older. You're also able to think more abstractly and envision things a bit better. An example? The reason you don't point your loaded weapon at one of your buddies is because it might accidently discharge and you'll shoot him. By the mid-thirties, you're more able to envision the effects of that than at the age of 18.

By the mid-thirties you've also learned (again, apologies to the ladies here, but I think you'll agree) the art of selective deafness. This would come in handy if captured by the enemy. "What is your unit strength, and what is your mission?" "I'm sorry, what?" (Louder) "What is your mission, and how many people are in your unit?" (shaking head sadly, pointing to ears) "Say again?" (Louder still, growing aggitated) "MISSION, UNIT" (Feigning comprehension) "YES I miss my unit, will I be going back to them soon?" (Screams of utter frustration, cursing in native language)

See my point?

After we leave our twenties, we're less inclined to be interested in brawling to "prove ourselves." Remember the scene in Raiders of the Lost Ark where Indiana Jones had fought off a group of swordsmen with his bullwhip, only to find himself facing one last opponent who stood twirling and brandishing his sword? Of course you do, it's cinematic history. What did Indy do? He shot the guy and moved on. Classic older guy remedy to the situation. Fight you? Heck no, BANG you're dead.

One of our readers sent the following in email to WUA a few days ago, and the man is absolutely correct.

Enjoy, and see if you can't find the solid logic in the thought processes.

Once and Always, an American Fighting Man

Drafting Guys Over 60
I'm over 60 and the Armed Forces say I'm too old to track down terrorists. (You can't be older than 42 to join the military.)

They've got the whole thing backwards. Instead of sending 18-year-olds off to fight, they ought to take us old guys. You shouldn't be able tojoin a military unit until you're at least 35.

For starters:
Researchers say 18-year-olds think about sex every 10 seconds.Old guys only think about sex a couple of times a day, leaving us more than 28,000 additional seconds per day to concentrate on the enemy.

Young guys haven't lived long enough to be cranky, and a cranky soldier is a dangerous soldier. If we can't kill the enemy we'll complain them into submission. "My back hurts! I'm hungry! Where's the remote?"

An 18-year-old hasn't had a legal beer yet and you shouldn't go to war until you're at least old enough to drink. The average old guy, on the other hand, has consumed 126,000 gallons of beer, and a jaunt through the desert heat with a beer and an M-60 would do wonders for the old beer belly. (Note there are 24 hours in a day and 24 bottles in a case...another convenient way to measure time!)

An 18-year-old doesn't like to get up before 10 a.m.

Old guys always get up early to pee.

If captured we couldn't spill the beans because we'd forget where we put them. In fact, name, rank, and serial number would be a real brainteaser.

Boot camp would be easier for old guys. We're used to getting screamed and yelled at and we like soft food. We've also developed an appreciation for guns.We like them almost better than naps. They could lighten up on the obstacle course however. I've been in combat and didn't see a single 20-foot wall with rope hanging over the side, nor did I ever do any pushups after completing basic training. I can hear the Drill Sgt now, "Get down and give me ... er ... one." Actually, the running part is kind of a waste of energy. I've never seen anyone outrun a bullet.

An 18-year-old has the whole world ahead of him. He's still learning to shave, to carry on a conversation, and to wear pants without the top of his butt crack showing and his shorts sticking out. He's hasn't figured out that a pierced tongue catches food particles, and that a 400-watt speaker in the back seat of a Honda can rupture an eardrum, and that a baseball cap has a brim to shade eyes, not the back of his head.

These are all great reasons to keep our kids at home to learn a little more about life before sending them off into harm's way. Let us old guys track down those dirty rotten cowards who attacked us on September 11. The last thing an enemy would want to see right now is a couple of million old farts with attitudes.

Share this with your senior friends. It's purposely in big type so you can read it.