Friday, February 25, 2011

Hey, Who You Callin' a POG?

"The older I get, the faster I was." -- Anonymous

Roughly two thousand years ago, just after a legion of Roman soldiers stopped in front of a steam to take a drink and a break before making the rest of their way across Carthage, one turned to the other, and said, "You know what, man? This isn't the shit that I signed up for."

Of course, I wasn't there...I was late for the party by roughly two millennia, give or take a few years. So what makes me so confident that it happened?

Because the italicized line above is among the most common laments of soldiers across all cultures, countries, and eras. Once or twice since we've been mobilized, I've even let it slip a time or two. My sob story is that I came over to the Army to do Civil Affairs -- the MOS that I thought best matched my interests, abilities, and ideals. The spot the Guard offered up wasn't there for me once I got there, so I sort of fell back on the world I had come from. I love that world, but it's not as hands-on as Civil Affairs, where the real backbone of counterinsurgency lies.

As a staff puke with a Brigade Headquarters Unit, I am certainly a Person Other than Grunt (POG). POG, by the way, is a derisive term used to describe Fobbits, REMFs, or whatever other term is used to describe those who primarily work on bases. However, the important thing to bear in mind is that the appellation fits for ALL of the unit, which is a Brigade Headquarters. The problem, though, is that everyone has some type of "Action Guy" background to bring up whenever dismissing the other people in the unit as being a bunch of snivelly POGs.

Never mind how old, out-of-shape, or tactically unsound someone might be today...the fact that they held an 11B infantry MOS and used to do 12-mile ruck marches uphill both ways in the snow during the 1980s is their scoundrel-esque last refuge for settling any tactically-based argument.

At some point, I'll admit, it becomes hard for me to listen to (Hey, I warned you...not all the entries here are going to be 100% positive). I'm just not that impressed with the "Combat Arms" credentials of someone who spent a few years' worth of weekends in a Field Artillery unit and has spent the last couple decades talking about it. Ditto for someone who did a four-year enlistment in the Marines, followed by twenty or so years in the Guard, but still calls himself "Devil Dog." Huh?

I think if you're going to walk the walk, awesome...and I'll measure anyone's ability to do that by what he or she can do today. I'll embrace my "Combat Support" role for the next 300+ days with gusto, but I think when I get back home to Massachusetts it might be high time for another unit and Military Occupational Specialty.

I'd prefer the company of those who do, now as opposed to those who did, then.


Progressive Veterans said...

I wouldn't fret over the false idols worshipped in the warrior culture.

Bravery and heroism are found in unlikely places. In medical units and transportation units. Men and women are rarely ready to dance with the devil. But they do, when the music of fire plays.

What is odd, is that often the MOH recipient is the most humble and unassuming of all. You hear more about what they didn't do, who they could not save or help, than what they accomplished to earn the highest recognition of their nation.

Just do the task you are assigned. It doesn't matter if you can connect each link of the chain to where the horror mixes with tears. It's all one effort. In the Army, the "butterfly effect" is pronounced.


C R Krieger said...

Let me tell what it was like in the old Corp.

Supposed said by the first enlistee at Tun Tavern, to the second.  Tun Tavern, Philadelphia, 10 November 1775.

Regards  —  Cliff