Military

  • Enlisting in the Military: A Very, Very Bad Idea
    If you are a young man wondering what to do with your life, you may consider enlisting in the military. Don’t. Yes, the military has its appeal, or seems to. You may need a job. The uniform looks good. There can be adventure. You might get laid by Asian lovelies in foreign countries.  These things …
  • A Whorehouse of Damned Fools: Thought, If Any, in the Federal Bubble
    I expect my columns to be gems of lucidity and concision, such as to arouse despair in other writers. I have been expecting this for decades now. It may still happen. Meanwhile I fear today’s effort will be helterskelter, having the literary aspect of a tossed salad. I beg patience. The Earth holds some eight …
  • Fredwitz on War
    As this illustrious columncharges resolutely into the future, a few thoughts on geopolitical doings may, or for that matter may not, be of interest. I’ll try. Regarding the war in Ukraine, massively different  understandings exist. In   America and countries controlled by it, it is believed that Russia invaded without provocation to begin reconstituting the Soviet …
  • Memorial Day: I Am Going to Kill the Next Person Who Says “Thank You for Your Service.”
    LVT P5 AMTRAC. What we drove in my AMTRAC Battalion in Danang. Designed as a Landing vehicle, it had the gasoline tank in the bottoms so that, when the Marines decided to used them on land around mine fields, they were death traps. We were rushed into the war half-trained. Happy Memorial Day This might …
  • Let’s Invade Mexico!
    In Washington some damned fool Republican, actually Lindsey Graham, R-SC, suggests sending the US Army to Mexico, “to fight the drug trade,” this to be done “with Mexico’s permission,” which is Washington talk for “after buying Mexico’s President.”Whether this is luminous stupidity or malign intent isn’t clear. It is militarily absurd. Why? First, the population …
  • Diving Days: Deep Walls and the U352
    The Atlantic waters off Snead’s Ferry in North Carolina are shallow, maybe 125 feet to the continental shelf. Several wrecks lie on the bottom, mostly in advanced stages of disintegration, sunk by U-boats in the early years of the war. I know them well as for years I was a member of Capital Divers, out …
  • The State of the Military, a Few Years Back but, Alas, on the Money
    -T{he current state of the American Army. Troops learn the hardships of pregnancy. The United States seems to be contemplating war with Russia, Iran, China, or all three. Washington pushes NATO ever closer to Russia, leaves the nuclear-missile treaty and tries to destroy both countries and China economically. Why the push for war? Simple. Asia …
  • A Grand Adventure: Wisdom’s Price
    He grew up in the woods and rivers of the county, fishing and swimming and hunting under sprawling blue skies and driving his rattletrap car insanely and lying on the moss with his girl and watching the branches above groping the sky and marveling as the young do at the strangeness of life, and the …
  • Reflections That Should Be Antecedent to Our Next War, But Won’t Be
    It is curious how little military men know about war. You would think they would think about it more. Yet, oddly, they regularly misjudge practically everything concerning their dismal trade. Their errors are not the sort that inevitably must occur in a contest, as when a quarterback doesn’t pick up a blitz. They are fundamental …
  • In Saigon’s Alleys, a Place I Loved
    Dawn comes to the alleys around Tan Son Nhut Field with a faint grey light seeping past the graveyard and up the dusty road toward the banana market. Pots begin to clatter and red charcoal dims in brightening court-yards. A hungry dog sniffs in the ditch. A cyclo, a motor-driven coal scuttle equally useful as …
  • Among the Potted Plants: A Soldier of Fortune Convention (WashPo Magazine)
    The firing range lay in spectacular desert hills rising to a huge sky over Las Vegas, a blue immensity bounded by worn red stumps of rock like shattered molars. Startling pink strata cut through darker layers the color of clotted blood. Scrub vegetation struggled on the dry earth, forming such a wasteland that it was …
  • Going Seriously Boom: Aboard a Nukey-Boomer Submarine
    We stood, the captain and I, high in the sail, the rounded steel dorsal fin that used to be called the conning tower, as the sun rose red over the Cascade Mountains of the Pacific Northwest. A bitter cold wind raced over the Hood Canal, leading to the open Pacific; the water was black and …
  • Aboard the M1 Abrams, Maserati of Tanks
    To an observer on one of Fort Hood’s flattened prominences, the Abrams M1 tank would seem a dark mote below a high plume of dust, a glint of periscopes, a small furor lost in the vastness and pastels of central Texas. Not even the grandest of tanks can intimidate a landscape. By day and night …
  • Bat Cagle, Jawless, and Me: Three Guys and Not a Lick of Sense
    Now, about Cagle. He came, fresh meat out of Danang, onto the eye ward at Bethesda Naval Hospital in, it must have been, the summer of ’67. He was a handsome, wiry mountain boy out of Tennessee. In a rice paddy he had endeavored to fire a rifle grenade at several of what were then …
  • A Veteran Writes: A Six Pack, Bad Memories, and a Typewriter
    I begin to weary of the stories about veterans that are now in vogue with the newspapers, the stories that dissect the veteran’s psyche as if prying apart a laboratory frog-patronizing stories written by style-section reporters who know all there is to know about chocolate mousse, ladies’ fashions, and the wonderful desserts that can be …
  • Funding the Rabid Bat: Pentagon Budgeting Explained
    In early 2035, the thirty-fourth year of the war against Al Qaeda, the Pentagon issued a White Paper saying that the F22 Raptor, the front-line fighter plane of the United States, was nearing the end of its useful life and needed to be replaced. Not everyone agreed. Various budget-cutting organizations argued that the Raptor had …
  • Our Very Own rogue Nation
    I have just finished reading William Shirer’s Berlin Diary. (This may not fascinate you, but I am coming to something.) I first encountered it in high school. It is of course Shirer’s account as a correspondent in Germany of the rise of the Nazis. Most of it is well known to the educated. The Nazis, who had …
  • Leaving Saigon
    Forty-six years ago in a previous comedy I was in Saigon, recently having been evacuated from Phnom Penh in an Air America—CIA—Caribou carrying, in addition to me, several ARVN junior officers and perhaps a dozen BUFEs (Big Ugly Fucking Elephants, the ceramic pachyderms much beloved of GIs). America had already embarked on its currently standard …
  • Women in the Military: Why Not
    Sigh. I have just read that a young woman named Sage Santangelo has failed the infantry-training course for Marine officers at Quantico, bringing the rate of female failure to 29 out of 29. As an old hand with thirty years covering the military, I can attest that this vu is getting more deja all the …
  • The Schanberg MIA Thing
    During the post-Vietnam uproar over alleged American servicemen allegedly deliberately left behind by the Pentagon as prisoners, a major website wrote admiringly of the assertion to this effect by Sydney Schanberg, reporter for the New York Times. At the time I was a military writer in Washington and deeply immersed in the story, based in …
  • How to Lose wars: The Military as Asylum (2011)
    Ever wonder why the US military can’t win wars? Why a few ragtag guerillas could send it running out of Somalia (Black Hawk Down)? Why one guy with a truck bomb could chase the Marines out of Lebanon? Why the attempt to rescue the hostages in Iran was such a disaster? Why the world’s most …
  • Unused Militaries, Such as Ours, Rot
    For a couple of decades I covered the military for various publications, as for example the Washington Times and Harper’s, and wrote a military column for Universal Press Syndicate. I was following the time-honored principle of sensible reporters: “Ask not what you can do for journalism, but what journalism can do for you.” The military …
  • Laotian Memories i Wish I Didn’t Have
    As I write, it is Veterans Day. Coincidentally last night, November tenth, the annual Marine Corps birthday party took place at the Tratoria, a local Italian restaurant. I hadn´t gone before, not being much of a joiner, but went this time with Vi and Natalia. The assembled were nice people, well along in years, as …
  • Getting Rid of McKinley: The Marine Corps, Reality, and August
    In the sweltering August of ’66 we were in training in Marine Corps boot camp, in the mosquito swamps of Parris Island, South Carolina, getting ready to go to war. The build-up for Viet Nam had begun. We were thousands of kids, from the lower middle class mostly, the nation’s usual cannon fodder, young bucks …
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