Don't Bunch Up

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We all think it is just horrendous that 19 Americans were killed and scores wounded in that mess hall in Mosul. It is hard for me to believe that we would be feeding our troops in a big mess hall, making them a real desirable target, but then the Pentagon isn’t asking me how to do things.

You would think if we were going to do that, we would give them some place better than a tent to eat in. My God, we have been spending money like water over there, you would think we could have built those guys a big bunker to use. I bet the Staff Officers have one.

I can remember the first time I ate in a big mess hall in Vietnam. It was at Dong ha, late in the summer of 1968, and I bet the place held 400 guys. On that day the first thing we heard was the shrapnel flying through the metal roof as a round hit just outside. The walls had row upon row of sand bags to absorb any short rounds, but a direct hit would have taken a lot of us out too.

There were long deep trenches outside and that is where we all headed. Sitting across the table from me was Staff Sergeant Christian and next to him was a Sergeant who had on a leg cast. Christian picked that man up and carried him by me like I was standing still and I followed him to the trench. I jumped in and Christian bent over and handed off the Marine he was carrying.

About then another round came in and blood started pouring out of Sergeant Christian’s forehead. All it took was that couple of seconds handing off that wounded Marine, and that Staff Sergeant had himself a Purple Heart and at the end of the week, they awarded him a Bronze Star.

After that, I started to find that I could make C-rations taste pretty good if I had enough Tabasco sauce. Sitting around with a few hundred other guys in a combat zone, no longer seemed like a good idea to me, and fewer and fewer guys would line up for chow.

Maybe those in charge in Iraq have forgotten that you don’t want to make your troops into one big target. I am sure there are Iraqis working on that base over there and probably every base in the country. They know where the prime targets are. All they have to do is figure out a way to get a suicide bomber near there.

We can’t do things like that, because we value the lives of our troops and suicide missions are only used in dire circumstances, but that isn’t the way it works for our enemy. From all reports, they have guys lining up ready to give their life for God and country, and here we were in Mosul, giving them a target to die for and they did.

Now I know when we screwed up big time and dropped the ball on September 11th and about 3,000 Americans were killed in a suicide attack, nobody stood up and took responsibility; heck, no one even lost their job. But now we are in a combat zone, we know there are maybe thousands of crazy guys ready to "pull the pin" just to take a few of us out and nobody in charge even thought about spreading out the target.

Right in Mosul, where insurgents have killed and dumped over a hundred Iraqi National Guard Troop’s bodies in the last few weeks, we have our young men and women eating like they were at a buffet. Presenting a target of our troops like this should be a crime, and somebody should be held responsible.

We claim we have the finest fighting force in the world and that they have the best equipment and the best training money can buy, but one boneheaded move like this mess hall can give the enemy the boost they need to carry on the fight for many more months to come.

Jim Glaser [send him mail], a Marine Corps Vietnam War veteran and Commander of VFW Post 3869, works to educate the American public on the consequences of war. His personal website is James-Glaser.com.

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