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Our troops: Another reason why they are the best
Posted by: McQ on Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Readers of RedState know who Jeff Emanuel is. But for those who don't, he's a former SO soldier who, through RedState, put enough money together to embed with US troops in Iraq. One of the more interesting things he's noticed during his time there, is the reaction of other embeds, especially those from Europe:
While I was at the Combined Press Information Center (CPIC) in Baghdad on my recent trip to Iraq, a pair of Spanish journalists — a newspaper reporter and a photojournalist — walked in, fresh from their embed with the 1-4 Cavalry of the 1st Infantry Division (the unit with which I embedded only days later). They had spent two weeks amongst the troops there, living and going on missions with them, including house-to-house searches and seizures, and their impressions of these soldiers were extremely clear.

"Absolutely amazing," said David Beriain, the reporter (and the one who spoke English), said of the young Cavalry troops. "In Spain, it is embarrassing — our soldiers are ashamed to be in the army. These young men — and they seem so young! — are so proud of what they do, and do it so well, even though it is dangerous and they could very easily be killed." Beriain explained that the company he had been embedded with had lost three men in the span of six days while he was there — one to a sniper and two to Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs), both of which had blown armored Humvees into the air and flipped them onto their roofs. Despite this, he said, and despite some of the things which they might have said in the heat of the moment after seeing another comrade die, the soldiers' resolve and morale was unshaken in the long term, and they remained committed to carrying out their mission to the best of their ability for the duration of their tours in Iraq.

It was in the process of performing that mission, of coping with the loss of loved ones, and of just being themselves as American soldiers that these young men were able to win over the admiration and affection of more than one journalist who had arrived in their midst harboring a less-than-positive opinion of the Iraq war, and of those who were tasked with prosecuting it.

"I love those guys," Beriain said, looking wistfully out the window of the media cloister in the Green Zone that is CPIC. "From the first time you go kick a door with them, they accept you — you're one of them. I've even got a 'family photo' with them" to remember them by. "I really hated to leave."
That highlighted portion is so important to understand. And you're hearing it from someone who was originally set to believe that he'd find the opposite to be true. Where Democrats continue to tell us that they're doing this all for the troops, they also continue to ignore the fact that the troops aren't asking for their help in the way they're claiming it is necessary. The vast majority not only believe in what they're doing, but are proud of it as well.

The transformation is amazing, and, given the shared hardship, easy to understand. No matter your position on the war, serving with combat troops changes you whole perspective:
"I was one of those," admitted Beriain, speaking broken English and blinking away tears. "No matter what you think of the war, or what has happened here, you cannot be around the soldiers and not be completely affected. They are amazing people, and they represent themselves and the Army better than anyone could ever imagine."
Probably the most startling embed conversion happened with a Greek reporter, as Emanuel notes:
The most spectacular recent case of a journalist with an anti-war mindset being completely overwhelmed into a change of heart by American soldiers, according to the PAO, was a Greek public television reporter who had been embedded with an infantry unit that became entrenched in a 45-minute firefight with insurgents. Yanked out of the line of fire by a soldier who put the journalist's life above his own, he waited under cover and in fear of his life for the almost hour-long duration of the battle, with the best view possible of American soldiers in action against an armed and murderous enemy. He credits his having lived to tell the tale directly to those young troops.

"He had tears in his eyes as he talked about it," said the PAO. "He just kept saying, 'they saved my life, they saved my life...these are great men; they are heroes.' Even after telling it several times, he couldn't get through the story without choking up — and this was a man who had arrived here with all of the disdain for the Iraq mission and for the American soldiers who he [like seemingly most Europeans] had seen as the bad guys in this fight."
They put a human face on the war, they banish the myths that grow up about them and what they do and, they do it in such a way that even the most resistant to the what the US is doing in Iraq end up reconsidering their premises.

Kudos to Jeff Emanuel for the reporting, and, of course, to the soldiers who, despite all the nonsense flowing from these shores, represent themselves and what they do with a level of pride and ability which completely destroys all the preconceived notions about who they are and what they do. Even the most resistant, if exposed to them, seem to come away changed.

(HT: Philip)
 
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The most powerful phrase I ever heard, first from a Captain and then from a Combat Correspondent was, "You GOTTA love the troops." If you do that everything else will work out, if you don’t you’ll never come close to accomplishing anything.

As De Saxe wrote, "The human heart is the starting point for all things pertaining to war."

Loving them doesn’t mean excusing them or letting them date your daughter, they’re human with all the faults and foibles of humans, but you can’t think of them as victims, or trolls or "Baby killers" or pity them or condescend to them either.
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
Can’t wait for Glasnost to talk about what a shill this reporter is.
 
Written By: cap joe
URL: http://
Could we convince John Kerry to embed?
 
Written By: Aldo
URL: http://
Loving them doesn’t mean excusing them or letting them date your daughter, they’re human with all the faults and foibles of humans, but you can’t think of them as victims, or trolls or "Baby killers" or pity them or condescend to them either.
Precisely ... but the latter (pity and condescend to them) is exactly what Democrats are doing.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
"Despite this, he said, and despite some of the things which they might have said in the heat of the moment after seeing another comrade die,..."

It’s nice to see that some of them understand this, that people say things under emotional stress that can be out of character and do not accurately reflect their true feelings or beliefs and do not predict their future conduct. I wonder if American journalists are undergoing similar conversions.

"Could we convince John Kerry to embed?"

I will bet that some of these journalists have embedded longer than he did.
 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
I will bet that some of these journalists have embedded longer than [Kerry] did.
Maybe that is why they have a better opinion of American troops.
 
Written By: Aldo
URL: http://
Can’t wait for Glasnost to talk about what a shill this reporter is.
Fear not, the usuals avoid posts like this because, well, there’s no meme or talking point that can counter it.

Give them this as a rule they know which battles not to get into.

 
Written By: looker
URL: http://
I will bet that some of these journalists have embedded longer than [Kerry] did.
So, Michael Yon has a career waiting for him as a Senator when he gets done representing the troops.
 
Written By: Keith_Indy
URL: http://asecondhandconjecture.com/
One of "them" married my daughter.

They will never have to wonder if they could have made a difference in their lives.

Nice touch of condescension though.



 
Written By: MarkD
URL: http://
Since Joe has dropped the ball on this one...

"Two words: Stockholm Syndrome."
 
Written By: Harun
URL: http://
the latter (pity and condescend to them) is exactly what Democrats are doing

I think you need a broader paintbrush. You may have missed a couple of spots.
 
Written By: Francis
URL: http://
One of "them" married my daughter.
One of "them" is me.

But I understood Joe’s point. He might have said it differently to be clearer, but he was saying that they’re just like any group as a whole ... some good, some bad, some you’d welcome into the family with open arms and some you wouldn’t want anywhere near your family. And frankly, I agree.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
I think you need a broader paintbrush. You may have missed a couple of spots.
Show me where I’m wrong, Francis. Sometimes what is, is. Maybe I needed to be clearer ... when I say "Democrats", I’m speaking of the Congressional Democratic leaders.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
Re: pity and condescend.

There are certainly plenty of soundbites that are not terribly complimentary to the House Democratic Leadership. But we’ve already gone a couple of rounds on this topic here on this blog. I believe that a Democrat (like myself) can (a) legitimately want to withdraw the troops (to, say, Kurdistan frex) without (b)pitying and condescending to the troops.

My understanding of what you wrote (several weeks ago, I think) was that you thought that holding those two beliefs was internally inconsistent.
 
Written By: Francis
URL: http://
One of "them" married my daughter.
One of "them" is me.

And one of them was my father and one of them was my brother...
and a lot of them were or are my friends.

McQ said it correctly, and I ought to have been more clear:
...but he was saying that they’re just like any group as a whole ... some good, some bad, some you’d welcome into the family with open arms and some you wouldn’t want anywhere near your family.
I didn’t get mad when Andy Rooney said that they weren’t all heroes, because he’s right they aren’t.

Kipling said it best:
We aren’t no thin red ’eroes, nor we aren’t no blackguards too,
But single men in barricks, most remarkable like you;
An’ if sometimes our conduck isn’t all your fancy paints:
Why, single men in barricks don’t grow into plaster saints;
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
This is why the anti-war crowd have so much disdain for embedding of journalists. They fear it may pollute the journalists preconceived negative notions of the American Military. They are correct in that fear
 
Written By: James E. Fish
URL: http://faroutfishfiles.blogspot.com/
Francis, I’ll take you at your word.

Return the favor by taking me at mine. There is a cultural view of soldiers in America, most common among liberals, that is fundamentally flawed. It sees soldiers as some strange "other", diminished, emotionally wounded, either rabid killers or automatons... different.

The uniforms offend. Apparently because they are "uniform".

Young people say the oddest things to me, betraying the oddest misconceptions, when they explain that they could *never* subsume their individuality so far to even consider serving. (Smart girl may have even used the word "subsume" and she was serious, but where did she get the preconceptions?)

Movies are often the worst. High budget films tend to have some depth, but the B movies... need some idiot to unquestioningly follow orders in order to make your plot work? March on some soldiers... they’re really like that you know.

I’ve also seen scripts in draft form written by a thoughtful, intelligent man, who had no idea that his soldiers were stiff, cardboard creatures, while his other characters were human. I told him, and he still didn’t see it.

A good number of people in America (just like those foreign journalists) had such preconceptions, apparently all gleaned from Hollywood, that they nodded sagely when Murtha expressed that all of our soldiers walked the razor edge of atrocity, so much so that explaining why that is wrong and insulting falls on deaf ears. The power of belief is *so* strong.

I’ve had conversations with people who were astounded that the modern Army in Iraq didn’t resemble fatalistic young men whoring in opium dens. They were almost disappointed, as if something dear to them had been lost.

The anti-recruiting movements play a roll... a recruit needs to be saved, it seems, because he’s already unable to think for himself... or something. The recruit is a *victim*, not a thinking individual.

And so do our soldiers need to be saved. Saved from their own choices. Saved from the choices of their commanders and leadership.

While soldiers look at themselves as professionals a good number of "bring them home" sorts are "doing it for the children."

 
Written By: Synova
URL: http://synova.blogspot.com
synova: I completely agree. I also think it’s appalling. And I have no idea how to change it. Unfortunately, the media loves controversy and so a certain class of idiots, far too often famous for nothing more than being a movie star, are determined to be representative of all liberals.

that said, the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy does the armed services tremendous harm. on the one hand, most colleges have had for some time now a policy that employers which discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation may not recruit on campus. on the other, the military explicitly does so. when i was in college in the early 80’s, as acceptance of homosexuality was rapidly spreading, the military was seen as a hidebound and autocratic employer of last resort.
 
Written By: Francis
URL: http://
I believe that a Democrat (like myself) can (a) legitimately want to withdraw the troops (to, say, Kurdistan frex) without (b)pitying and condescending to the troops.
But the Democrats do not say this, do not specify how they intend to redeploy the troops. This leaves the Democrats open to the "withdraw to Okinawa" surrender meme, where they want to wrap troops in cotton wool.
 
Written By: unaha-closp
URL: http://warisforwinning.blogspot.com/
quick comment because i’m close to brain-dead after a long day:

surrender? to whom? where are the POW camps?

yes this is a little facetious, but this is a topic that does not lend itself to using metaphor all that well.

the lack of consensus in the Democratic caucus reflects, IMHO, two things: (a) waiting to see what the Kurds do at the end of this year, when the vote on the long-awaited referendum on independence is due to occur and (b) a lack of clear direction from the voters as to what they want. End the occupation? OK. Send the troops home / Japan / Kuwait / independent Kurdistan? 8-Ball sez: "Answer Unclear. Try Again Later."

btw, what’s "cotton wool", a new 50-50 blend for BDUs?

(my feeble attempt at humor.)

cheers.
 
Written By: Francis
URL: http://
"Young people say the oddest things to me, betraying the oddest misconceptions, when they explain that they could *never* subsume their individuality so far to even consider serving. (Smart girl may have even used the word "subsume" and she was serious, but where did she get the preconceptions?)"

My guess is because they are so shallow that they equate individuality with superficialities like piercings, tattoos, unique hairdos, etc. They really have no idea that if you remove all the superficial cr*p, make people look pretty much the same, the true uniqueness of each individual stands out. You have to look for it, of course, and you have to know what qualities to look for, and society does a pretty lousy job of preparing them to do so. Character is not as well promoted as it used to be.

 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
I agree, timactual. I won’t say that everyone is suited to the military but on the subject of individuality I found the uniform and even the structured environment itself promoted it rather than the other way around. Self control, self discipline, personal initiative, personal responsibility... sounds pretty "self" centered to me. Plus, it exercises the creative muscles to work around that structure effectively. ;-)
 
Written By: Synova
URL: http://synova.blogspot.com

 
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