More Sacrifice For U.S. Troops In Afghanistan

From Marine Corps Times:

More than 50 AAFES (Army and Air Force Exchange Service) concessions serving U.S. troops in Afghanistan will be closed within 90 days under an order issued Feb. 5 by Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the top U.S. commander in that war zone.  These include popular fast-food outlets like Burger King, Popeyes and Taco Bell, as well as jewelry stores, souvenir stores and new car sales outlets.

“MWR (morale, welfare and recreation) programs across the theater should be limited in scope and tailored for an expeditionary force,” McChrystal said in his order. “MWR should never be the distracter that changes the focus of the mission.”

Solomon from SNAFU! and I, discussed this a bit, and here is his last comment:

I don’t think its the General trying to punish anyone, I just think he’s trying to make sure that the guys in the rear face a little of the hardships that the guys in the boonies face during a whole tour.

I decided I would post my response below, here on my blog:

I know what you are saying Solomon.  I just think you gotta give these guys something to look forward to when they get back to base.  If you make being on base equally as uncomfortable as outside the wire (except for being shot at), It seems to me that morale will suffer greatly, not improve.  I can’t help but feel guilty back here at home, knowing that soldiers are getting even more taken away from them, when they already have very little.

They are already far away from their friends, family, and all the comforts of home.  Risking their lives on a daily basis for surprisingly little pay, and they can’t even enjoy a burger or some fried chicken during their down time?

I understand the possibility of getting “Fat and happy” exists, like you said in your article.  But why punish the soldiers that don’t abuse their privileges?

If you ask me, those guys already sacrifice enough.  We need to do everything possible to keep them motivated.

From talking to you before in email, I know your background enables you to speak with a lot more authority on this topic than myself.  I am interested to hear what you have to say back to my response.

Marine Corps Times Article – HERE

Solomon’s original post on his military blog SNAFU! – HERE

4 COMMENTS

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Patrick February 6, 2010 at 07:08 pm

Agreed Mike. Give our fighting force every convenience you can possibly muster for them.

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Josh February 6, 2010 at 08:38 pm

I think the problem might be the disparity between the soldiers who are out in the FOB’s without the convenience of all these concessions and the REMF’s that spend their whole deployment stationed in Bagram and Kandahar.

When I was there in 02 and 03 I spent nearly my entire deployment out in those small FOB’s on the front lines. There were none of those “concessions” when we returned to Kandahar before redeploying home. The biggest comforts we had were a PX, in basically a large tent, and the fact that we no longer had to eat MRE’s all the time. I can certainly imagine though, and I’m sure you can also, that there could conceivably be some tension between soldiers returning from the front lines and soldiers who spent their time in the relative comfort of a virtual metropolis in the desert.

I think it could be a sore point for soldiers who had just come off the front line where they were being shot at, possibly lost some friends, to return to Kandahar before coming home and see so many fellow soldiers who would spend their entire time in country with, seemingly, most of the conveniences of home.

That’s just this guy’s point of view.

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solomon February 6, 2010 at 10:46 pm

EXACTLY my point Josh.

Its amazing how much of a mini-USA is at those rear bases. Same issues applied in Iraq. The Green Zone didn’t even look like a combat area until mortars and the occasional sniper round came in.

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Admin (Mike) February 7, 2010 at 03:16 pm

Interesting insight. Thanks guys!

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