Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Boots On The Ground

Stalingrad (AP Photo)
For those who derive all of their information from Hollywood, this may come as a bit of a surprise. War is nasty. It hurts, it smells, it's uncomfortable. If you want to advocate going to war with someone, you better be first in line to get your rifle and ammo. If you want a war, you should be prepared to go to war yourself. In person.

Personally I would love to see all of those lame sumbitches in Congress get off their lazy, fat asses and learn how to fly a jet. Or perhaps learn how to fire a Tomahawk missile. Or volunteer for the PBI (poor, bloody infantry). And stop saying "boots on the ground". Forever.

"Boots on the ground" means that real-live breathing, walking and talking soldiers and Marines will be expected to go in and clean up whatever mess the idiots in DC brought about. And most assuredly some of those kids will get killed and wounded. And make no mistake about that, for the most part the guys engaged in direct combat are young. 18 to 22 year old riflemen with an assortment of sergeants in their late-20's, early 30's. The officers at the lower level aren't too far removed from college.

For the idiots for whom Hollywood is the real deal, guess what? Getting wounded doesn't usually mean pulling a muscle or breaking a bone. Or perhaps a deep scratch which bleeds a lot but will eventually heal. Nope, sorry.

Wounds are typically caused by bits and pieces of hard things (usually metallic but stones and concrete hurt too!) flying through the air at high velocity and then impacting a part of your body. These things tend to tear pieces out of you. It's not like a movie where it hurts like Hell but you can walk it off and keep fighting. Nope. When all is said and done, you've got a chunk of your body missing. And where it used to be is bleeding like crazy.

You might think that getting hit by a bullet is somehow "cleaner". Nope. Typically, a bullet will make a fairly small hole going in. Then it starts to tumble, creating what is called the "wound track". Tearing up your anatomy where ever it goes. If it comes out on the other side, that hole is a lot bigger. Going in, think maybe pencil sized. Coming out, think fist sized or larger, depending on the round. Not clean at all.

And it's not just the hole. There's also something called "hydrostatic shock". What's that you ask? Well, according to Wikipedia:

Hydrostatic shock or hydraulic shock describes the observation that a penetrating projectile can produce remote wounding and incapacitating effects in living targets through a hydraulic effect in their liquid-filled tissues, in addition to local effects in tissue caused by direct impact. There is scientific evidence that hydrostatic shock can produce remote neural damage and produce incapacitation more quickly than blood loss effects. Proponents of cartridges that are "light and fast" such as the 9x19mm Parabellum versus cartridges that are "slow and heavy" such as the .45 ACP round often refer to this phenomenon.

Human autopsy results have demonstrated brain hemorrhaging from fatal hits to the chest, including cases with handgun bullets. Thirty-three cases of fatal penetrating chest wounds by a single bullet were selected from a much larger set by excluding all other traumatic factors, including past history.
Sure, once you get hit, (and if you're still alive and conscious) it takes a moment for the brain to realize that something bad just happened. Again, that's if the hit didn't kill you outright. No, more than likely you're down on the ground from the impact wondering what just transpired. Once that initial shock wears off, you won't be participating in any Rambo-like activities. (While there are documented cases of soldiers being wounded, sometimes badly, and continuiing on, those cases are rare. Those guys get the Medal of Honor. Posthumously.)

Could be you've just lost an arm or a leg. Or both. Or multiples of both. Unless a medic or corpsman gets to you right away, you're going to bleed out. The technical term is exsanguinate, you know, "bleed to death". If you even just nick the femoral artery in either leg, you've got about a minute or two before you are dead. Some vessels in this mortal coil of ours are designed to move large amounts of blood. Open one to the air and they'll do just that, pump large amounts of blood out of that hole and onto the ground. They'll keep going until your heart stops due to loss of blood volume. (Ain't nothing left to pump!)

Yes, war is messy.

When a person gets hit, other things happen, especially if that hit kills you. You lose control of all of your bodily functions. Think about that for a moment. All of your bodily functions. Battlefields do not smell pleasant and it's not just the cordite and blood.

So let's stay away from that "boots on the ground" phrase. Let's say what we mean. When we say that, we mean sending young men (and now women) into harm's way to kill, and die, on our behalf. There's no other way to look at it. When a politician uses that phrase, your BS detector should start screaming at you. Loudly. Very loudly indeed.

H/T to HMS Defiant for inspiring this post.


  1. When I first heard that term it came from a General. He can call it what ever he wants because he knows what it really means. You are SO right about politicians throwing that phrase around. It dehumanizes it's intended meaning. Sounds professional from a General, makes me ill when it comes from a politician!

    Great, great post.
    We can't be afraid to ask our brave young men to risk their lives if the cause is right, but we DAMN WELL should never take that sacrifice lightly and the cause DAMN WELL better be dire enough to require the risk!

  2. Did I ever mention Cuz has a Purple Heart from his first tour in Viet Nam?
    I'm sure he has a bunch of other medals, too.
    But he doesn't talk about any of them.
    The only reason we know about that one's because it shortened the tour and he was at Letterman for a long, long time.
    It almost cut short his career.
    He's still got the slug, too.
    It was never removed, even when they did reconstruction early last year.

    I know for sure I wouldn't want to be a grunt.

  3. The toughest talk comes from those least likely to be downrange.

  4. There was a site that recently published photographs of some of the youngsters shot by that Norwegian lunatic on the island. Those bullets were incredibly destructive. My dad was hit in Vietnam by a much slower fragment or bullet and all his wound isn't anything like these kids.

    To make the president climb down from such a terrible and useless attack must have taken every very persuasive in the White House working overtime.

    1. Perhaps there's a glimmer of hope after all.

      We shall see.

  5. Well said. One hopes the lunatics in charge of the asylum get the message: this is NOT our fight.

    1. There may be hope yet.

      Did you see that the voters in Colorado successfully recalled (as in "fired") two of their more liberal loonies in office?

    2. Not wishing to violate the ROE about talking too much politics on your blog, but.....
      As the joke goes, "it's a good start". Now, how do we recall a president?

    3. As you might notice, over the past few days I've been kind of political. So I have violated my own ROE. So, as the saying goes, "no sweat GI".

      And yes, "A good start."

      As to the pResident, I believe they call that impeachment.


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