American Elephants

The Drawdown Diet for Marines: by The Elephant's Child

While the workday here is usually considered to be eight hours, for the Marines at Camp Leatherneck in Afghanistan’s Helmand Province the workday is twelve hours long. The midnight ration service — known as “midrats” —supplies breakfast to Marines on the midnight-to-noon shift, and dinner to the Marines who are ending the noon-to-midnight work period.  It’s described as one of the few times the Marines can be together in one place.

Starting Saturday, they don’t get a hot cooked meal, but a pre-packaged MRE (meal ready to eat). They are also removing the 24-hour sandwich bar. There aren’t a lot of luxuries at Camp Leatherneck. A hot meal doesn’t seem too much to ask. The federal government has lost interest in Afghanistan and the dismantling of U.S. military facilities. More than 30,000 U.S. service members will leave Afghanistan in coming months as the U.S. prepares to hand the country over to the Taliban in 2014. [“responsibility for security to Afghan forces in 2014”].

This may seem to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel as a good way to save money, since they are winding down. But it is a huge blow to morale. Since Mr. Hagel’s only qualification for his current position was that he had been an enlisted man in Vietnam, one would think he would be more sensitive to the needs of the troops on the ground. It’s embarrassing. MREs are meant to be an alternative when real food is not possible. The Marines are furious. Lt. Col Cliff Gilmore who has been deployed to Afghanistan since February has the unenviable task of enforcing rules handed down.

“The fact is our force in Afghanistan is shrinking fast and all the creature comforts and services deployed military-members have grown accustomed to over the past decade are going to be reduced,” Gilmore wrote in an email to NBC News. “When serving we are challenged to endure different things — to face different challenges — over time. But we’re an odd bunch, we Marines — probably no surprise that we’ll complain more about losing the sandwich bar on the way out than we did about getting shot at on the way in.”

The tactical reason for the cooking scale-down is that the people who are assigned to “support services” — such as food workers — “need to go home before the people who provide the security which enables those services,” Gilmore wrote. “This is a natural outcome of the drawdown process unrelated to sequestration or the ongoing budget issues back in the States.”

Here at home military families are gearing up to spur food donations for all the troops in Afghanistan, and have launched a Facebook page called “Breakfast for Bagram,” to try to relieve  the monotony of MREs.

The Middle Ages: Dark Ages? by The Elephant's Child
June 2, 2013, 6:01 pm
Filed under: Education, Europe, History | Tags: , ,

This is a good quickie course in Middle Age history. Not Dark.  Lots of myths in what we think we know about history.

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