Free Markets, Free People

What Would Rommel Say?

He certainly wouldn’t be happy, that’s for sure. Germany’s top soldier isn’t happy with his troops either. Speaking about German soldier complaints about their deployments he said:

“We cannot guarantee soldiers that they will have an all-round feel-good experience,” said General Wolfgang Schneiderhan.

“We have to tell a professional soldier who complains about his third tour of overseas duty that he has to get a grip — this is his profession,” said General Schneiderhan.

“Perhaps the problem is down to the general tendency in society to delegate responsibility to someone else, or perhaps it is the stress associated with change,” he told several hundred army officers and politicians at an official reception.

Ah, social welfare – it does change a culture, doesn’t it? And although the Germans have been a part of the ISAF in Afghanistan since 2001, other members of the NATO team have voiced dissatisfaction with their performance. That may be because they are participating (I hesitate to use the word “fighting”) with one hand tied behind their back:

German Medevac helicopters have to be back at base by dusk. German Tornado aircraft are restricted to unarmed reconnaissance. Der Spiegel magazine highlighted the case recently of a Taleban commander — nicknamed the Baghlan Bomber because of his role in blowing up a sugar factory in that northwestern province — who was cornered by the KSK German special service unit but allowed to escape; under the terms of engagement imposed by Parliament the KSK are not authorised to kill unless they are under attack.

So since they don’t fight at night (unless they’re willing to do it without medevac support), what do they do? Well, they drink. Forget cultural sensitivity, the German force of 3,500 goes through 90,000 bottles of wine and 1.7 million pints of beer a year:

The reports of soldiers’ complaints made to parliament by Reinhold Robbe, the ombudsman, paint a picture of a force that is concentrating more on its own wellbeing than on the peace-keeping mission.

[…]

The diet is heavy on carbohydrates, low on fruit and a higher proportion of soldiers are overweight than in the civilian population of Germany. Mr Robbe admitted that too many soldiers had a “passive lifestyle”. In short the soldiers are fat, they drink too much and spend a great deal of time moaning.

Truly signs of a very unhealthy force in more ways than one. And this is one of our primary NATO allies? And we wonder why Afghanistan is going so swimmingly?

~McQ

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15 Responses to What Would Rommel Say?

  • I have said it before – many, many times – but I will repeat it again: Obama is too dangerous, too dangerous for words. He makes Neville Chamberlain skilled in diplomacy, and we all know (at least I hope we do) what old Neville did when he kissed Hitler’s fanny in 1938 and sold Czechoslovakia down the river, sort of the same way The Clown™ is selling Israel, Poland, and the Czech Republic down the river now.

    But, I do believe, that each passing day more and more people are coming to understand that a huge mistake was made last November. And, next November, they will make up for that mistake by driving the Democrats out of the majority in the US House, and cut into their majority in the US Senate. Don’t believe me? Watch the polls. See that more people consider themselves conservative than at any time since 1992, and that includes 1994. And Democrats are now less popular on many issues, including the economy and unemployment and government spending. And The Clown™ is becoming more divisive with each passing day. He may be personally popular, but his policies are driving people away from the Democrats. Only Nancy Shmancy and Harry Reid are too dumb to notice. Nearly 10% unemployment is not helping the situation; $3.00 a gallon gas will destroy it.

    The Clown™ will be a one-term President, like Jimmy Carter before him, because Carter believed that winning in 1976, when the GOP name was poison, as a mandate to destroy the government in his own mold. Ronald Reagan undid that nightmare in 1980. We have to coalesce behind another strong candidate, and we will send The Clown™ back to his crooked cronies, terrorists, and religious thugs and anti-Semites back in Chicago in 2013.

    • Dear Mr. Marsden: I hope you are right. If it was June 2012, I’d definitely agree with you. But I don’t think you’ve thought your Carter analogy through. OK, assume Reagan in 1980 was a repudiation of the Bumpkin. Reagan also was a repudiation of Nixon-Ford 1969-77 Republicanism. What GOP candidate in 2012 can repudiate The One—and also Geo. W., 2001-09? For all his strength on the conflict with terror, Geo. W. also spent like water, adding idiotically expensive entitlements to the budget, trying to move the nation’s capitol to Mexico City in the summer of 2007, and allowing the GOP Congress to dive headfirst into a sewer of corruption. Domestically, Geo. W. was a flop, save for judicial nominations.

      So. What GOP candidate can repudiate Geo. W. and The One the way Reagan did to the Crook, the Bumbler, and the Bumpkin? I think Mitt Romney has a chance, but I thought that in the fall of 2007, and you saw how that turned out. Also note that Romney’s experiment with health care in Massachusetts is a wee bit short of expectations.

      Care to try your own luck?

      Sincerely yours,
      Gregory Koster

      • Gregory KosterFor all his strength on the conflict with terror, Geo. W. also spent like water, adding idiotically expensive entitlements to the budget, trying to move the nation’s capitol to Mexico City in the summer of 2007, and allowing the GOP Congress to dive headfirst into a sewer of corruption. Domestically, Geo. W. was a flop, save for judicial nominations. What GOP candidate can repudiate Geo. W. and The One the way Reagan did to the Crook, the Bumbler, and the Bumpkin?

        Excellent point. Part of the problem is that a significant fraction of the electorate – possibly a majority – WANTS many of the things that Bush did. People have come to expect the government to provide (i.e. pay) for a plethora of new “rights” that we’re assured that we have, ranging from health care to retirement to education. Bush, as a “compassionate conservative”, was more than willing to have the federal government provide these things. The only difference between him and TAO on fiscal matters is that TAO shows less(!) restraint in spending.

        Fiscal conservatives have what amounts to an unattractive platform: vote for us and we’ll stop giving you stuff! I fear that the American people are going to have to suffer through a long period of quasi-socialism with all its ills before they can plainly see the folly of demanding a nanny state. Only then (if ever) will they once again recognize the virtues of a small federal government that stays out of the charity racket.

  • My initial reaction was to scoff: “Typical Euro-weanies, bunch of sissy-mary pantywaists who could have their butts handed to them by any passing troop of Brownies.”

    However, my brother’s unit worked with several NATO contingents in Bosnia a few years back, and the general opinion of the Germans was that they are good soldiers. Could it be that it’s not the German SOLDIER who is the problem here, but the German civilian leadership? I can’t imagine a rational soldier making decisions like “no medivac flights after dark” and “shoot only in self-defense”.

    I suggest that the Germans are bored out of their minds and have had their morale sapped by being forced to deploy to a combat zone only to be kept on such a tight leash that they can’t help but wonder why in the world they are there. In such a circumstance, is it any wonder that they drink and eat their troubles away or find things to b*tch about? Consider this little gem from the article:

    “Even their carefully sorted rubbish gets dumped in wheelie bins before being sent from Afghanistan to Germany for recycling.”

    So… Troops in a combat zone spend their time sorting garbage that’s sent home to Der Vaterland. Riiiight. How much does that cost? I’m sure that the Soldaten wonder that very thing, especially when “Army doctors say that they are on the brink of leaving because pay and conditions are so bad” and “… others moaned about… a lack of childcare for their families at home and poor medical care.”

    Berlin can pay for us to fly garbage home but won’t pay for decent childcare for little Hans? Bored soldiers have plenty of time to brood about this sort of thing.

    Now, it may be that the Germans HAVE been so ennervated by decades of socialism and living under the benevolent protection of the United States that they’ve lost the martial spirit that made their ancestors feared, respected and even emulated all over the world. My guess is, though, that if Berlin would let its soldiers BE SOLDIERS and kick a little Taliban a**, the complaints would dry up, the beer guts would disappear, and that part of A-stan would become a little more peaceful.

    • I tend to agree with this analysis. In Bosnia, the Germans were skilled, efficient, and fought in a street-to-street theater better than we did. (Treasonous to say, I know.) Politics aside, two generations ago they possessed one of the best all-around fighting forces the world has ever seen. It is doubtful that the soldier himself has degraded to such a horrible level, but the socialism factor must at least be considered.

      When you look at the arbitrary and unreasonable restraints put on them, especially the lack of search and destroy, it is clear that they do not want a true soldier or military presence in the region. If you “de-soldier” a person trained as a soldier, don’t be surprised when his overall appearance and demeanor follow suit.

  • Another important variable that needs to be looked at with regards to a soldier’s sense of satisfaction is whether the soldier is a conscriptee or volunteer. Not to take away from their service, but the level of morale among German conscriptees will always be lower on average than among soldiers who volunteer for service.

  • “the German force of 3,500 goes through 90,000 bottles of wine and 1.7 million pints of beer a year”

    That’s an average of 25.71 bottles of wine per person per year. At four glasses per bottle (6 1/3 ounces per glass), that’s one glass every 3.55 days.

    The beer is an average of 485.7 pints per person per year, or 1 1/3 pints every day. So that’s a pint each day for three days, then two pints on the fourth day.

    In all seriousness, that’s not really much drinking, especially for Germans. My father, of solid French-German stock, was drinking a glass of beer and 1-2 glasses of wine every day almost up to his death at 82.

    • It may not be much drinking, Perry, but a) it is blind to the cultural taboos there (not good if you’re trying to win hearts and minds) and b) seems to be their priority according to their leaders (i.e. creature comforts, not soldiering and the mission).

      • Considering the mission (what’s supposed to be done, what actually is being done), I wouldn’t begrudge foreign military a beer or two a day. If Afghanis don’t like it, well, their choice is between alcohol-imbibing foreigners and alcohol-banning tyrants, and that isn’t close to choosing the lesser of two evils.

        I won’t argue the point that the German military personnel are doing a lot of anything but fighting, but “they drink too much” is a stretch when there are valid criticisms of other things. I’d worry more that they’re on sanitation duty more than combat duty.

        • False choice, Perry – they apparently want neither. That’s a third choice.

          And no one said “they drink too much”, the point was that getting their beer and wine (and comforts) seemed more important to them than doing the mission.

  • Unfortunately, I don’t think Obama is going anywhere in 2012. Unless, in the mean time, there is a catastrophe of a magnitude that I don’t even want to consider.
    As for who could be this century’s answer to Ronald Reagan, I would say frontrunners are Mark Sanford or Gary Johnson. Sanford is akin to Ron Paul, but without the nutjob stigma. Johnson is more of an unknown (and longshot as he is not an incumbent politician), but I’ve heard some good about him. Robert Gates would have been a good centrist (as in Realpolitik not as in “Change”), but in 2012 he’ll be as old as McCain was in 2008. If Petraeus retires, he could easily have a career in politics if he wants one. Maybe as VP in 2012 or 2016. I also like J.C. Watts a lot, and he’d be a good VP, but think he was so disgusted with Washington politics that he’ll never return.
    All of the losers from the 2012 primaries would be terrible, and none represent anything different from the GOP’s standard government expansionism and special interest favoritism. Sarah Palin, if she were to win the primary, would be an absolute disaster, and if it happens, I think it could realistically be the final nail in the coffin for the Republican Party.

  • Er, that last comment was supposed to be a reply to James Marsden under the #1 comment. God, I hate this format….
    Anyway, ISAF = “I saw Americans fight”, or “I Sun-bathe at FOBs”.

  • Actually, Bruce, I used quotation marks because…it was a quote: “In short the soldiers are fat, they drink too much and spend a great deal of time moaning.”
    I don’t deny the first and last, but the middle is a stretch.
    Regarding the Afghanis’ choices, they would like neither, but we know it isn’t going to happen. By definition, not choosing the Taliban or U.S.-led forces means that the other will be in control.

    • The middle is an internal assessement by their own leaders.

      As for the choices, one is an easy fix – no alcohol. We’ve done it for 8 years and it certainly hasn’t hurt us or our performance.

      The point, of course, is we have a tendency to deny ourselves some creature comforts with the desire to be as culturally neutral as we can since we understand we’re engaged in a “hearts and minds” game. The Germans seem to think more of their creature comfort than the mission (in which “hearts and minds” is an integral part). Seems pretty typically German to me.

  • This is strange. I’m attempting to reply directly, not using the bottommost reply button, but every time it’s treated as a non-reply.