Re: Subscribing to The American Spectator:
Just started subscribing to your excellent magazine — full of inspiration, intelligent comment, insight. When I compare it to what passes for political analysis and opinion over here it makes me cringe with exasperation and bewilderment. I am particularly impressed with the genuine passion of other readers for the defense of such worthy values such as freedom of speech, loyalty and duty to one’s country, etc. Sadly there is no similar body of opinion on this side of the pond and if there is, it is very quiet unless you look up certain blog sites. So, can I say that I’m ashamed and embarrassed of this country’s so-called stance in the war on terror? My country prides itself on its inflated delusional sense of self-importance as it preens and moralizes self-righteously like a despicable coward hiding behind the protective curtain of that contemptible organization, the UN. I pray daily that the great American men and women sacrificing their lives will prevail — whether on the battlefield or through the media. When that day comes I will take satisfaction at observing lefties in Europe trying to square things in their befuddled little heads. If they are alive, that is — because Europe will be the big loser as this struggle plays out.
God Bless America. And Martin N. Tirrell from New Hampshire.
— Fionbar Lyons
Re: Mark Gauvreau Judge’s Shaving Like a Man:
Great article! I’m still using an old Gillette that I have to disassemble in order to change the blade. Colgate still makes good shaving soap. And a shaving mug is any old coffee mug you no longer use, but don’t want to throw away. I also, on occasion, use a Rolls Razor. Now that is Old School. Please remember not to bang your new razor on the sink to clear it.
New Providence, Pennsylvania
Thanks for the humorous essay. I’m 55, and still use a straight razor. Mostly, I suppose, as a quiet protest against disposable consumption, and because I take pride the skills required to maintain the edge. But also as a link to the past — I remember my father shaving with one in Pullman car bathrooms at 65 mph between Chicago and Denver.
— Steve Huntley
I have been a blood donor in two locales. I periodically go to the local blood bank, and, in the past, I would dribble the precious red stuff down the bathroom drain as I shaved with my “safety” razor. I gave up on the self-inflicted wounds, and, using the advantages of the free market, bought a Braun electric razor. I’m now on my second one, and I love it.
— Vincent Mohan
Englewood, New Jersey
I enjoyed Mr. Gauvreau’s column on shaving. Having started with a classic Gillette safety razor in the 1960s I can say that I have used the full the range of available devices ranging from the cheap disposable to the high end electric razor. However, I have to vehemently disagree with his assessment of shaving tools. There is nothing manly about taking the hair off your face with an implement that irritates cuts and scratches you face.
Shaving technology is not about manliness, it is about efficiency. I have recently switched to the dreaded five-blade razor and find that it gives a clean, comfortable close shave. If you want to appear more manly play hockey. It will eventually produce some nice masculine scars.
— Jerrold Goldblatt
Mr. Judge is almost spot on. Where he erred was in stepping out of the shower before shaving. For the best possible Real Man’s shave, mount a mirror on the shower wall and shave right there, enveloped in your personal cloud of steam.
(Once one gets the hang of it, one comes to understand that having at least a 50-gallon gas water heater is absolutely necessary for civilized living.)
— Doug Welty
Maybe you can deal with the safety razor, but my poor son in the Army — he has tried EVERYTHING (including safety razors and electric) and nothing alleviates the skin irritation he suffers day after day after day, having to shave every day in a place whose very air is full of sand and grit.
In case you think he’s a muffin, he stands over 6 feet tall, weighs about 190 pounds and is a welder/metal worker, building everything from steps to vehicle armor to other things he can’t tell us about. He spends his days lifting, hauling, sweating and exuding essence of MAN. Don’t p*** him off and bump into him in a dark alley — he has great patience, but will eventually react.
Personally, I laugh every time a new razor comes out with more blades. I recall a TV show in which they showed a razor with 32 blades and it was HUGE and I thought that was probably where all this was going.
But to assume that this is a feminization of men is rather absurd.
— Anastasia Mather
Staten Island, New York
So let me get this straight. According to Gauvreau Judge, shaving “like a man” involves going online to look for specialty shaving equipment, slicing up your face until you are able one day to gingerly take off the stubble, and all the while branding the entire male sex as “metrosexuals” for doing it quicker, cheaper, and easier with a disposable razor and aerosol can of shaving cream. I take it there is no hyphen between Gauvreau and Judge because he doesn’t wish to be mistaken for a man-hating feminist?
— Brendan R. Merrick
Budd Lake, New Jersey
I am delighted to learn of Mark Judge’s discovery of the Merkur “classic” safety razor. I have had one 20 years and would not think of using anything else. I can offer a variation on the shaving cream and brush. There is a “brushless” shaving cream which works very well straight out of a tube. Apparently this product is another historical curiosity. Once a number of brands were available at the local store, each with its own scent. Now I find only Palmolive and it’s not always easy to find.
— Michael V. DiMartini
Huntington, New York
Re Mark Judge’s article about learning how to shave again: would someone ask him to publish the websites he went to, where he bought a safety razor and other shaving paraphernalia?
Also, was that a misprint, or was the first disposable razor REALLY introduced as early as the 1890s? Seems to me that “disposable” began when they started making everything out of plastic, much later than 1895.
— Kelley Dupuis
Chula Vista, California
Mark Gauvreau Judge replies:
Mr. Dupuis: Classicshaving.com and amazingshaving.com are good places to start. If you google “classic shaving,” more will appear. Ms. Mather: Have your son try an alum block, available from The Art of Shaving and on amazon.com. Also, the best stuff I’ve ever used for irritation and razor burn is the After Shave Repair lotion by Anthony Sport.
MEN, NOT MODELS
Re: Daniel Griswold’s Our New Coalition of the Willing:
The author mistakenly refers to Bolivia, Venezuela and Cuba and their form of government “economic models.” I beg to differ. The leaders of each of those countries practices the model of power to himself.
We can watch the fully developed “power model” which is a fully despotic, dictatorship without and economy and without freedom. The people are stultified and lack ambition. They are ill educated and have only enough food to keep body and soul together. Anyone who challenges the orthodoxy is murdered or imprisoned. In order to maintain political stability Mr. Castro rails against the United States and to protect against invasion (always imminent) by the “Yanqui Imperialist dogs” he drafts those most likely to cause trouble — males between about 17 and 30 into his armed forces where they are watched and tightly controlled.
In Venezuela, a developing “power model” Mr. Chavez has moved neither as brutally nor as quickly as did Mr. Castro. Oddly enough Mr. Chavez is following the Hitlerian model of an army of thugs who batter the opposition into oblivion, physically. Mr. Chavez has now obtained control over the only product of any worth produced in Venezuela, oil, and now controls the media. Mr. Chavez also rails against the U.S. in order to take his people’s minds off the fact that no change for “the proletariat” has occurred, nor will it. He is increasing the size of his military and is seeking newer more powerful weapons from his accomplices in Europe. Give him ten more years and his nation will be in political and economic shambles as are those institutions in Cuba.
Then we have the child of the group. This may be a horse of a different color for a time. Mr. Morales is an indigenous person and may actually attempt some meaningful economic reform. But this will be short lived. Remember the Sandinistas? Among the first acts of their leaders was to
confiscate the palatial mansions of their wealthy citizens and move into them, where they still reside today. So that was a revolution designed to get Mr. Ortega a new house. This will be the fate of Mr. Morales. He will be corrupted by gathering to himself all the power there is to had in Bolivia and he will murder not only his countrymen, but his revolution.
— Jay W. Molyneaux
Hate to nitpick here — Brazil’s constitution follows the presidential model of our constitution, as opposed to a parliamentary system. Lula is the elected president of Brazil, not its prime minister, a position which does not exist in the country’s political system. Otherwise, a good and informative piece on a part of the world we need to devote a little more attention to.
— Daniel A. Moroco Jr., Colonel, United States Marine Corps Reserve (Ret.)
NOTHING DEMOCRATIC HERE
Re: Jay D. Homnick’s Groan and Bear It:
PLEASE, do not throw away number 2, “That old peanut farmer, Jimmy Carter, taught the Democratic Party a great deal: since his departure they have produced a consistent harvest of nuts.” The only change that needs to be made is change Democratic Party to Democrat Party, as there is nothing Democratic about their party. If you don’t agree with them you are GONE.
— Elaine Kyle
If those were the rejects then TAS is indeed America’s cleverest magazine. But then, we already knew that.
Among your scarce peers is the Wall Street Journal, which once carried the headline, “Pasta Maker Uses Its Noodle to Whip Competition.” There’s also another nationally reviewed magazine that’s excellent, but you folks are tops.
By the way, you may want to purchase a paper shredder lest Jason Blair, Joe Biden, Dan Rather, or some such finds plagiarizable material in your trash dumpster while gathering discarded food and cigarette butts.
— R. Trotter
All hail the King of Punsters! Soon Jay Homnick will surpass Shakespeare: “If you call for me on the morrow you will find me a grave man.”
And calling Michael Moore a Trencherman is priceless, especially if you consider the archaic definition: “a parasite.” That qualifies as a double pun in my book.
Puns are held in unwarranted disrespect. Permit me to share my favorite: There was the king who got so frustrated at his court jester’s puns that he forbade him to tell another one on pain of death by being hung. But alas, the jester punned again, and on the way to the gallows he passed by the king, who was overcome with regret. So the king offered the jester the same deal again, no puns, no death, whereupon the jester said, “No noose is good news.” and died happy.
— Bob Johnson
Re: Lawrence Henry’s Elementary — and Appalling:
It’s a privilege to have an expert such as Lawrence Henry regale us with hunting stories of his youth and his unparalleled knowledge of gun safety. As a member of the NRA for many years and an avid hunter for close to forty years I can attest that Mr. Henry is off base in at least two of his criticisms of the VP.
First it has been reported that Mr. Whittington was in front of the rest of the hunting party. When you are hunting in a group in tall grass or heavy brush it is easy to lose track of where everyone is. It is up to each hunter to know where he is in relation to the rest of the party, accidents happen when people are out of position, or are careless.
Secondly Mr. Henry is appalled that Vice President Cheney fired at ground level. The shot was not at ground level but rather five above the ground. Obviously in his vas experience Henry has not hunted many quail. Quail flush in all directions and fly at different altitudes. Actually pheasant also often stay low, something I’m sure the author was aware of based on his two weekends in South Dakota.
The bottom line is that accidents happen, even when people are responsible and careful. Acting shocked and appalled is just silly.
By the way shotgun shells hold pellets of various sizes. BB’s are one of those sizes, generally used for large birds such as turkey or geese. Also, the pellet size is determined by diameter not weight, since different metals have different weights.
If you are going to present yourself as an informed reporter, get informed.
— David Petersen
I tend to agree with Mr. Henry on most points. This accident is not a matter for jokes, nor is it a matter for resignation. If the VP had been out driving while sober and accidentally bumped into another car — his fault — should he resign? No. But he should get a ticket and have his insurance go up.
Accidents often happen when we do something so much and so often, we drone off into autopilot. When handling a firearm, you must be attentive, just as while driving. No autopilot. Be alert.
There is no excuse for this. The VP screwed up. Thankfully no one was seriously injured or killed.
This should not be a subject of inane jokes on late night television. It should be a wakeup call for everyone. We should all think about this incident and how it could happen to us. We should focus on not “droning off” while we’re doing something familiar but dangerous, be it hunting, driving, operating heavy machinery, etc.
Pay attention and be safe.
Last night on ABC news, Dr. Timothy Johnson referred to the birdshot used by VP Dick Cheney as buck shot. Unless he retracts this statement and uses the word “bird shot,” I have no further interest in listening to his comments, despite the fact he is every entertaining.
These clever little word exchanges are how the mainstream media shapes the minds of people who have no idea what the difference is between birdshot and buckshot. Having been hit with large and small pieces of shrapnel, I can tell you the small ones are nothing compared to the large ones. Buck shot is very large balls, and they retain energy a lot further, do a lot more damage, and are far fewer in number in a shell. Johnson and Vargas were feeding rather enthusiastically at the trough of frenzy when the word buck shot was slipped in. This is a major, major misrepresentation of the truth. Even if it is a real slip of the tongue. It took about the same amount of time to commit as it takes to shoot a quail. The results, far more damaging. Millions of misinformed ABC fans. Normally, I don’t watch the left news. Last night I did, just to see what efforts would be made to cook the account. I am sure someone has the technology to revisit ABCs’ account last night at 6:30 eastern time to verify my accusation. America is being taken down one word at a time. Do the politically correct media people actually think that in an Islamic America, they would have a job?
— Martin N. Tirrell
Re: Jackie Mason & Raoul Felder’s Insult Law:
Jackie said it better than all the other “journalists” I have read. Very insightful and written with the humor this cartoon subject SHOULD engender in all of us, if it weren’t both so scary and stupid.
— Joyce Romano
Redondo Beach, CA
“Could anything be more perverted?” Could anything be more provocative! Having intimidated the infidels into submission on this issue, the Islamists will not back down. They will see the effect and deem their violent tactics to be a success. Thus rewarded, they will press on to the next issue and the next battle. Acquiescence to bullies only encourages them and gives the “moderates” on the sidelines good reason to throw their support to their putative champions. The stakes are raised and the cost is even greater, bloodier violence and destruction. If 9/11 taught us anything, it is that Clinton’s policy of looking the other way and not rocking the boat leads eventually and certainly to massive disaster.
Bravo!! It is time to stand up to such incredible hypocrisy — how on earth any thinking Muslim could dare support such a ridiculously violent measure in the name of a supposedly loving God is beyond understanding. The response must come from within Muslim communities. It is not nearly enough for non-Muslims to rise up in horror and protest. Where are those Muslims who are courageous enough to stand up for the democracy that they live in — a democracy that protects the freedom of religion, speech and conscience without sacrificing one religious community on the alter of another? Or are they too afraid of those whose feet rush to shed the innocent blood of any whose “crime” is to dissent? The “Insult Law” would surely only apply to the rest of humanity — not to those Muslims who wish to enforce it, and that is a blatant hypocrisy. Why should Muslims be allowed to go around calling Jews “monkeys” and Christians “pigs” with impunity — is THAT NOT an insult?? For that matter, what gives them the right to call anyone who is not a Muslim an “infidel?” That is the height of theological arrogance.
— J. Davidson
There are many Iraqis who fight alongside us against a common enemy and thereby merit the highest of compliments and the strongest of titles: “Brothers in Arms.” Innocent Iraqi men, women and kids bleed and die, by the dozens, as daily victims of our enemies. Are these two groups “rag heads”?
The GIs here rarely use pejorative terms to describe in general the locals and our enemies. They WILL use strong language, standard American profanity, to focus on a particular individual. I am an older soldier from the Vietnam era, when “racist” terms were commonplace. It is strange that the modern politically correct GI will SHOOT these people but will not call them bad names with ethnic implications.
What hurts worse?
P.S. I knew that this subject would open a can of worms.
— SPC Snuffy Smith
What I think most critics of Ann Coulter miss and it appears that David Hogberg suffers from some of the same faulty logic is that this “war” we are in is not about “winning the Hearts and Minds” of our enemies. Both the left, a.k.a. liberals, and a sizable portion of the Muslim world population share many of same defeatist views that keep one and usually both camps a couple generations or more behind the Conservative side of the equation in both Spiritual and economic terms. I think the point she made came at the expense of those who are more worried about offending Muslims than facing the ugly truth about the Muslim culture in general. While it is true the bulk of the one billion Muslims on this planet aren’t actively supporting the terrorist acts of the front and center alphabet terrorist groups, it is still true that 99.9 % of the world’s terrorist groups and acts are Muslim based and could not continue on the scale they do without a significant support network where ever they operate. Every time tens of thousands of Muslims turn out to riot, rape and pillage around the world over things that wouldn’t offend a West Virginian, they make Coulter’s point loud and clear.
This is not about converting Muslims to our Western way of life or thinking and their single focus seems fixed on bringing down the West to their level in cultural/economic terms since their religion forbids them from rising above what lives in the dark backwaters of West Virginia hollows. To those that are “sensitive” to the use of words when combating evil, you need to do your homework. There is nothing pretty about the core tenets of Islam and short of the broader Muslim community standing up to the vocal minority that speaks for them with their violence, the majority will end up just as tarred and feathered as the rest.
What the Muslim community needs is a “New Testament” and a loud and vocal position against the violent actions of the “hillbillies” in their flock. Every time the “hillbillies” prance in the streets and riot over the fundamental freedoms of others, the silent majority is going to be broad brushed with the same sigma. There is no place in this world for such behavior among freedom loving people. Perhaps that’s the problem with Muslims, freedom isn’t part of their religion and they can’t handle that like mature adults. I’m under no illusions about what the bulk of the Muslim world thinks about Western Culture and its relatively freer religions. The writings of this great religion are there for all to see. History doesn’t paint a pretty picture of Islam’s tolerance for other religions or ideologies for that matter. The response to the world wide avalanche of Muslim violence from the 99.9 percent that say they are for peace is deafening. Does that Peace come before or after you convert everyone to Islam? Wars aren’t won being sensitive. The war of words, if there ever was one, ended on 9/11. By rushing in to condemn Coulter’s “insensitive” remarks you unwillingly make her point for her.
— Thom Bateman
Newport News, Virginia
As a healthy 82-year-old elder, I am offended by Mr. Hogberg’s “writing.” Please know, Ann Coulter is my hero. Mr. Hogberg, you sir are personified by your “writing” as being one who is indistinguishable from that of a bleeding heart, weak kneed, liberal, maladjusted Democrat loser. Why else could you be listed as a Beltway reporter. God bless with long life, our beloved soldier, Ann Coulter.
— Raymond Barton
Fort Worth, Texas
Although not an American conservative, I am a Canadian one and so I think that you may be interested in my take on the “rag head” story.
Apologizing for Ann Coulter just doesn’t cut it, in my view. If you think that it is possible for a Muslim to remain a conservative, think again. Do not court their support for the sake of winning elections or for any other purpose. Between Muslims and the West there can be no common ground because freedom and the Muslim religion are mutually exclusive phenomena. It is as much a case of either the one or the other as the relationship which obtains between freedom and Communism.
— Robert Dyment
Congratulations, Ann, you’re one of the guys. How’s it feel to offend someone barefoot in a gown, always bringing up the past? Seriously, though, save it for poker night.
— M. Scott Horn
I love Ann Coulter; she has more nerve than most of the gutless GOP. Who the hell is Hogberg anyhow?
— Gene Deveney
Hoboken, New Jersey
Reading “The Great Coulter Debate” confirms in the mind of this liberal that most conservatives are truly racist. Not all, mind you, because there were some reasonable responses to Hogberg’s essay. What is really scary though is that most responders clearly were unaware of their racism. Or maybe they just don’t care that they’re racist. That’s even scarier.
Stereotyping an enemy is not an unusual reaction in a war, but that doesn’t make it less racist. The vast majority of Muslims are not participants in this “war of terror,” nor are they sympathetic with our adversaries. Our ability to distinguish the good from the bad is going to be critical in winning the war. We are going to need to get as many Muslims on our side as possible or we are going to be fighting most of the planet. Democracy and the American way of life have a lot to offer Muslims and we can get them on our side if we resist the racists.
Conservatism, if it is to retain any credibility, will have to reject the racism of Ann Coulter. I know that conservatives won’t be interested in listening to a liberal, but “The Great Coulter Debate” revealed a few non-racists among them and I hope their influence can have some effect.
— Ron Schoenberg
COMBAT SUPPORT NOT READY FOR WAR ZONE
Re: Pat Collins’s letter (“Reserves at Fighting Strength”) in Reader Mail’s Cartoonish Gestures
Collins implies that Stuart Koehl does not know whereof he speaks with regard to the high levels of PTSD among U.S. forces, particularly the reserves, deployed to Iraq. Just to clarify, I have been a military analyst for twenty five years now, and have performed work for DoD, the intelligence community, the armed services, and for a variety of private organizations. In fact, some of my earliest published works were for The American Spectator in 1979-80 (“New Red Legions” and “Why the Rescue Failed”). Among my specialties is the study of human factors in war, and particularly human responses to combat situations. Along the way, I’ve read just about every book on the subject written since Armand du Picq first broached the subject in the 1860s.
That said, let me address Collins’s criticisms individually:
1. On levels of PTSD, Collins cites Dave Grossman’s On Killing, a rather tendentious work whose principal assertion is that the process of training soldiers to kill in battle requires the breaking down of long-embedded societal inhibitions resulting in profound psychological dislocation. The more highly trained, Grossman claims, the more psychologically dislocated the soldier becomes, with resultant traumatic stress in combat. This assertion, however, is rebutted by a long series of psychological evaluations of combat soldiers, beginning with the classic The American Soldier by S.A. Stouffer, et al., conducted at the behest of the U.S. Army at the end of World War II. Subsequent studies by the U.S. Army, the German army and the Israel Defense Forces all come to a diametrically opposed conclusion: that PTSD (under whatever name it was called at the time and place) is inversely related to the level of training received, and directly proportional to the time that soldiers spend on the firing line (See, e.g., John Ellis, The Sharp End: The Fighting Man in World War II, Martin van Creveld’s Fighting Power, Trevor Dupuy’s Numbers, Prediction and War, Eric Bergerud’s Touched With Fire, Charles Whiting’s Poor Bloody Infantry:1939-1945 and Gerald Linderman’s The War Within the War: America’s Combat Experience in World War II). Collins also quotes the oft-repeated claim that only 50 percent of U.S. soldiers fired their weapons in combat during World War II. The reference comes from historian S.L.A. Marshall’s book Men Under Fire, which was based on post-engagement interviews with U.S. soldiers in the European Theater, and his claim was only 25 percent of U.S. soldiers fired weapons in combat. Marshall’s work has come under increasing criticism of late, and it would appear that his 15 percent assertion was based on some dubious extrapolations of his data.
But assuming that Collins’s claim of 50 percent is correct, it only serves to prove the point that I made. During World War II, the U.S. Army followed one of the most perverse personnel policies in military history. After deploying divisions overseas, the Army chose to maintain them at full strength not by pulling them out of combat for an extended period of refit, but rather dispatched replacement troops fresh from the States as individuals to be inserted into units still in combat. These replacements, serving as isolated individuals surrounded by strangers, received only rudimentary training on the reality of ground combat before being injected into the meatgrinder. In fact, due to much higher than anticipated attrition among infantry, the level of training given to Army ground forces declined throughout 1944-45 (by the end of 1944, the Army was transferring cooks, clerks, air defense and other support troops to the infantry to rectify the shortage). Without adequate training, and without the support of primary group bonds, it was precisely among these replacement troops that one finds the highest levels of PTSD (to say nothing of the tendency to hunker down in a foxhole during a firefight).
Conversely, in highly trained, highly motivated elite formations such as the Airborne troops, the Rangers, and the First Special Services Brigade, we find much lower levels of PTSD, and much higher levels of combat proficiency (shooting back, in other words). This experience holds true across all the conflicts from World War II onward: elite units, with higher levels of training, higher morale, and better small unit cohesion have lower levels of PTSD. These units are far more likely to engage in close combat, and thus to actually kill in face-to-face situations, whereas ordinary line units tend to fight at longer range, relying much more on artillery and supporting fires. In fact, one of the most consistent observations about combat since World War II is rarity with which soldiers ever see a live enemy. The phenomenon even has a name: “The Empty Battlefield.” If we accept Grossman’s thesis, therefore, the highest rates of PTSD would be found among those units which engage in close combat most often. Instead, we find higher rates of PTSD among units less likely to engage in face-to-face killing.
In Iraq, we find that combat support and combat service support troops have a higher level of PTSD than combat troops. By the nature of their mission, CS/CSS troops are much less likely to engage in direct close combat than infantry or armor troops. They shoot back when fired upon (usually in the direction of fire, not at distinct targets), but seldom go looking for trouble. Rather, they are subjected to extended periods of stress due to the anticipation of being targeted by ambush or IED (i.e., they perceive themselves to be sitting targets). Again, if we accept Grossman’s assertion that PTSD results not from extended exposure to combat stress but to the psychological dislocation caused by the effects of killing on the tender conscience of the soldier, then CS/CSS troops would be the least likely to suffer from PTSD. This, however, is not the case, which was precisely my point.
If in fact we go back to the consensus among both psychologists and military historians that PTSD is a result of prolonged exposure to the battlefield environment, which can be mitigated by a combination of training and unit cohesion, then we can only conclude that the higher levels of PTSD among CS/CSS troops is a direct result of inadequate training and preparation for operations in a combat environment.
2. With regard to the composition of the Reserve and National Guard components, it is true that the bulk of the Army National Guard consists of heavy combat arms formations, the ArNAG units deployed to Iraq have mainly consisted of transportation, engineer and military police units. With the exception of the latter, none of these receive much in the way of combat training, yet in Iraq these units find themselves repeatedly in combat situations. Collins’s point with regard to the “Fort Apache” syndrome and the lack of situational awareness is merely to make my point in slightly different language: proper training instills both situational awareness and mission awareness. Even there, Collins needs to be more granular in his analysis: some CSS units lack clarity on the mission, but others do not; the latter would include those intimately involved in the reconstruction effort (construction engineers, civil affairs, and so forth. A truck driver moving POL up from Kuwait day after day sees a rather pointless situation with a reasonable probability of being killed or wounded. No wonder morale is low. However, morale is always low among rear echelon troops under most circumstances. Call it the Mr. Roberts Syndrome.
3. With regard to the Active Component vs. Reserve Component controversy, I favor neither one over the other. Some RC formations are excellent, and habitually excel in field exercises against active units. There are also a few that are just not up to snuff. It depends on the individual unit and its commander. Similarly, there are excellent active formations, and some that are less good. I make no claims either way, I merely observe that it is curious that CS/CSS units that are not seriously involved in combat or suffering severe casualties have higher rates of PTSD. Our understanding of the root causes of PTSD (Grossman’s book not withstanding) would normally lead one to attribute this to inadequate training and preparation. That numerous reserve component troops (and even commanders) have commented on the lack of tactical training being given to logistic troops, and the fact that the Army has since instituted a crash course in combat survival for those troops, shows that there is more than a modicum credibility in that assumption.
— Stuart Koehl
Johns Hopkins University-SAIS
Center for Transatlantic Relations
Re: John Batchelor’s writing on AmSpecBlog:
Maybe it is just me, getting too old or something, but I just can’t follow this guy’s train of thought. I sure hope I am not alone in this. Generally love your site and follow it daily, but John B ain’t for me! Hehe, reminds me of the Presidential bid of John B. Anderson from Illinois back in what? 1976 or ’78 or so? I just remember his slogan “John B is for me!”
— Roger Ross
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