In the article "Major John" of the Illinois National Guard takes Rep. Murtha (D-PA) to task for his "Many say the Army is broken" and "has done all it can" comments beginning with the words "Unmitigated crap." Major John goes on, a bit later in his article, to "tell you about how far we have had to come" throughout the course of his National Guard career. In his words:
What really infuriates me is that someone like Rep. Murtha knows better. Ask any veteran who served between 1975-1982/3 what the Army (or the rest of the Armed Forces for that matter) were like. Drugs everywhere, low pay, morale was non-existent, equipment was falling behind or scarce, there was no great sense of mission or purpose. (Emphasis in the original.)I can personally attest to that statement. I served in what may well have been the most "immediate reaction ready" brigade, aside from airborne units and the guys on the DMZ in Korea, of the active US Army during a portion of the timeframe mentioned. We would have been hard pressed to accomplish even the exercise Major John goes on to describe as an example of evidence that the National Guard he was serving with were slowly but surely becoming professionals rather than a bunch of Miller High Life swigging weekend wannabees.
Major John continues on to deal with Murtha's claim that the troops are living hand to mouth:
...I served in Operation Enduring Freedom V (Afghanistan, March 2004-March 2005). We stood at the end of the longest sustained supply line in the history of human conflict. (Emphasis added.) We were in war-torn Central Asia. Af-frickin'-ghanistan. We had decent food, e-mail, phone (OK, sometimes they weren't always working, but almost all the time) excellent medical support, good pay, regular (if slow) mail. We had a PXs at most of the larger bases, and coffee places sprang up too. We had so damned much ammunition that we needed to build a bigger ammunition supply point at Bagram, AF. We had so many vehicles that we were constantly squabbling over where to put them all - and we had enough up-armored ones too. Our supply warehouses were stuffed with clothing, boots, body armor and the like. "Living hand to mouth" is the worst lie of the bunch.
As I said above, IMO Major John's entire article is well worth reading. He concludes, and rightly so:
Respectfully, Rep. Murtha - you are wrong. Dead wrong.
My sincere thanks to "Major John" who will likely forever remain unknown to me at a personal level. And the same to you, Major Craig, whom I have known well and personally through a timeframe even longer than what Major John tells us about. The vast majority of your fellow citizens know not what you've done. Fortunately their recognition is not the prize you sought or continue to seek. Among those of us who do know what you've done, this fellow citizen stands in awe and holds you in the deepest respect.