It wasn't as if they had a choice. They were soldiers whose choices had ended when they had signed contracts and taken their oaths. Whether they had joined for reasons of patriotism, of romantic notions, to escape a broken home of some sort, or out of economic need, their job now was to follow the orders of other soldiers who were following orders, too. Somewhere, far from Iraq, was where the orders began, but by the time they reached Rustamiyah, the only choice left for a solider was to choose which lucky charm to tuck behind his body armor, or which foot to line up in front of the other, as he went out to follow the order of the day.
It seems like it might go on for a while, so Tausolo takes a seat and looks around the sergeant's cubicle. There's not much to see, since the guy just arrived at the WTB, only a blank form tacked to a wall that looks like every other army form in the world."Hurt Feelings Report," it is titled. "Whiner's name," it says under that. "Which ear were the words of hurtfulness spoken into?" it says under that. "Is there permanent feeling damage?" "Did you require a 'tissue' for tears?" "Has this resulted in a traumatic brain injury?""Reason for filing this report," it says under that. "Mark all that apply." "I am a wimp." "I am a crybaby." "I want my mommy." "I was told that I am not a hero." "Narrative," it says under that. "Tell us in your own sissy words how your feelings were hurt." Finally at the bottom of the form:We, as the Army, take hurt feelings seriously. If you don't have someone who can give you a hug and make things all better, please let us know and we will promptly dispatch a "hugger" to you ASAP. In the event we are unable to find a "hugger" we will notify the fire department and request that they send fire personnel to your location. If you are in need of supplemental support, upon written request, we will make every reasonable effort to provide you with a "blankey," a "binky" and/or a bottle if you so desire.
We got some stupid fuckers,” Kauzlarich said after the inflatable doll had been tossed into a burn barrel and set on fire, which created a thick column of oily black smoke that rose over the center of the FOB. “We got what we got,” Cummings said—and what he and Kauzlarich were wondering was whether these first cracks were just the effects of war, or also the effects of an army forced to take more and more stupid fuckers. It was something they had been dealing with since they began forming the battalion. For several years, in order to meet recruiting goals, the army had been accepting an ever-increasing number of recruits who needed some kind of waiver in order to become soldiers. Without the waivers, those recruits would not have been allowed into the army. Some of the waivers were for medical problems and others were for low scores on aptitude tests, but the greatest percentage were for criminal offenses ranging from misdemeanor drug use to felonies such as burglary, theft, aggravated assault, and even a few cases of involuntary manslaughter. In 2006, the year the 2-16 was getting most of its soldiers, 15 percent of the army’s recruits were given criminal waivers. Most were for misdemeanors, but nearly a thousand were for some type of felony conviction, which was more than double the number granted just three years before. This
I can see the little girl, the face of the little girl. And as much as people say that they don't care about these people and all that, I don't care about these people - but I do, at the same time, if that makes any sense. They don't want to help themselves, they're blowing us up, yeah, that hurts, but it also hurts to know that I've seen a girl that's as old as my little brother watch me shoot somebody in the head. And I don't care if she's Iraqi, Korean, African, white - she's still a little girl. And she watched me shoot somebody.