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MilitaryIamA US Marine Corps Captain. AMA, including those non-PC questions about the Marine Corps or military life in general.

Jun 24th 2016 by USMC_Captain_AM • 43 Questions • 55 Points

My short bio: Hello Reddit! I am an active duty US Marine Corps Captain, here to answer any questions you might have about the Marines, the military, deployment life, etc. I have deployed three times to the Middle East, including two deployments to Afghanistan. I have trained Jordanian soldiers to fight ISIS, served in both the reserve and active duty components, earned a Masters degree in service, and acquired a number of different specialties and qualifications.

Please dont hesitate to ask questions that might not be considered "Politically Correct", as I have no problem answering those. However, my opinions are my own, and do not necessarily represent the opinions of other Marines or the US military as a whole. Having said that, fire away!

UPDATE: I am continuing to get sporadic questions, and I welcome them. I have been checking this with relative frequently, and as long as Redditors out there still have question, I am happy to keep answering them. Thanks for all of the questions so far, I have enjoyed it!

In addition to the proof below, more concrete proof has been provided to the monitors discreetly, and they will be along shortly to verify me. Thanks!

My Proof: http://imgur.com/TXy3fzF

Q:

Who the fuck is Jody and why do militaty people hater him/her? I've heard my friends in the military mention them in conversation, but I'm pretty none of them know someone named Jody.

A:

I lol'd at this one. "Jody" is part of a cadence we sing while running, and in the song, he is the guy that is banging your girlfriend when you are away on deployment. So he becomes the catch all for that guy who is hitting on your gf while away.


Q:

Fuck Jody.

A:

Seriously. Fuck that guy.


Q:

What if ol Jody is 7ft 4?

A:

Doesnt matter, hes still a dick!


Q:

Why don't you break up with your girlfriends then?

No way she is going to stay loyal when you are away for years.

A:

I had a girlfriend through my first and second deployments (different girls). They deployments didn't break us apart, and I was happy with both of them. People get together and break up for various reasons. But paranoia on a deployment isn't really a good reason, IMHO.


Q:

How often are military rifles shot in fully auto or burst mode? I am under the impression that they would prefer to shoot in semi-auto mode for accuracy and saving ammo?

A:

This is a really excelelnt question: For most basic riflemen (carrying the M4 or M16A4), they are shooting in semi auto 99% of the time. Anything more tends to be a waste of ammo. But if you carry the SAW or IAR, you will be firing on burst or auto roughly 90% of the time. And then of course with the M2 .50, or the Mk19, you are firing on full auto, but short bursts (5-10 rounds).


Q:

Can you elaborate on which people would carry the SAW? My understanding is that it's a short range defensive weapon, rather than offensive.

A:

The SAW is currently being replaced by the IAR. But it is an automatic rifle, and one is usually carried by 1 person per fireteam (4 Marines). A fireteam is made up of a Fireteam leader, a rifleman, an automatic rifleman, and an assistant automatic rifleman. It is not short range or defensive in nature at all. It actually has the furthest range of a fire teams weapons. The rifleman will have an M203 grenade launcher attached to their rifle, and the indirect fire of grenade a plus the direct automatic fire of the SAW or IAR put the enemy into a "combined arms dilemma". If they're in the open, they can be engaged by direct fire. If they seek cover, they can be engaged by indirect fire.


Q:

I'm not from the US, so I have no opinion on your gun laws. Recent events are a result of unbalanced individuals. Sorry I should have been more clearer my question wasn't related to that.

But I am fascinated that people can seemingly obtain high powered weapons with little or no training on using them. That was the direction of my question.

A:

I am sure that seems confusing to many non-Americans. But when you consider the fact that Americans have always owned guns, and we are raised with them as common in our society, they aren't taboo to us. "High Powered" isn't really a good term. People don't like ARs because they look "scary", but in all actuality, many other guns function the exact same way, firing the exact same round, only with a different design.


Q:

Did you commission right away or did you mustang?

A:

I was not prior enlisted. When I was a junior in college, I decided that I wanted to be a Marine officer. I saw an OSO (Officer Selection Officer) and after passing the tests and screenings, I was enrolled in the Platoon Leaders Course (Combined), and spent 10 weeks at OCS in Quantico during the summer of 2007. After college graduation, I commissioned as a 2ndLt.


Q:

If you're still answering questions, after an OS deployment, what is the first meal you want when you get back home?

A:

Oh man, it varies so much! First deployment, all I wanted when I got home was Boston Market Macaroni and Cheese. Second deployment, I wanted a hot dog. Third deployment, any pork product, because the Jordanians wouldn't let us have any pork on their base. And of course, a beer to go with all three of these meals.


Q:

Is sexual exploitation common in war zones by US forces?

A:

No, not even a little bit. I am not saying it has never happened, but outside of the one or two news articles I can remember reading over the last decade, I have never heard of another case. We are a professional force, through and through. If I found out one of my Marines was acting inappropriately with locals, I would immediately have them disarmed, brought to the nearest base, and charged under the Uniform Code of Military Justice.


Q:

What about sexual excapades? (Consentual from both parties) are those legal?

A:

It depends...while deployed, sexual relations are strictly forbidden. If not deployed, they are forbidden between Marines of different ranks. But if not deployed, and not considered fraternization, there is nothing that prohibits sexual relations between Servicemembers. In fact, I know several husband/wife couples that met in the Corps.


Q:

http://mobile.nytimes.com/2015/09/21/world/asia/us-soldiers-told-to-ignore-afghan-allies-abuse-of-boys.html

Have you encountered anything like what's in this article? Being told to ignore the abuse of children by afghan allies? I remember reading that article and it made my stomach churn.

A:

Yes, sadly. Go to YouTube and search "This is What Winning Looks Like". Just awful stuff.


Q:

How often do soldiers blow their heads off(while actively in the military)? I've heard stories about live ammunition being restricted during training specifically for this reason.

Question number #2: How often does sex take place? Rape? Gay sex? Ever walk in on 2 of your mates diddling each other?

A:

I have never personally encountered a suicide by handgun in my time. But restricting ammunition during live fire is more about accountability than anything else. If a Marine wanted to kill themselves with a gun, they could just as easily buy ammunition at Walmart.

As to the second part, there aren't that many females in the Marine Corps, but the ones that are around are almost always dating another Marine. I have also never encountered two male Marines getting it on. As for rape and sexual assault, it does happen, but MUCH less than is thrown around. It used to be more of a problem, but the military has actually done a great job at counteracting what used to be an epidemic.


Q:

How bad was training? You can answer anywhere from Jarhead to Full Metal Jacket. Or is it really not as harsh as the films make it seem?

A:

Training was awful while there, but in retrospect, was actually enjoyable. I have often said that OCS was the funniest place I have ever been that you arent allowed to laugh at. The things that the Sergeant Instructors say while they are PTing you to death are just unbelievably funny and clever.

Overall, it is pretty intense though, its not anything you can do if you arent committed and ready to do what it takes. My OCS class graduated 63% of candidates who had reported that summer. So that is 63% of physically and medically qualified individuals who also possessed a 4 year degree (or were about to), AND passed the OCS selection process.


Q:

What was the most disappointing part of your marine experience? Also, any tips for securing the mos you want or becoming a Marine in general?

A:

Tips for your MOS: As an officer, you list your MOS desires first to last. They will tell you that they will do all they can to get you one of your top 5 choices, but they do a piss poor job of explaining what those MOS' actually DO on a day to day basis. Also, certain MOS' have only 1 or 2 allotments per TBS class (150-200 2ndLts). So if 3 guys out of 200 want to become a tank officer, one of them is going to be disappointed no matter what. What I always tells them is to really look through the MOS list, and if they cant pick 8ish MOS' that they would be happy performing, dont even bother trying to join.

Most disappointing part of my experience has to be poor quality leadership. I have had some excellent leaders, but I hate to say, the majority of my senior officers made weak decisions (or no decisions at all) out of laziness. There is a serious issue in the officer Corps of being afraid to admit when you dont know the answer to a problem, and to ask for help. This leads these officers to rely on the "textbook" answer rather than the best answer. I saw this play out repeatedly in the counter insurgency environment, and its never a good thing. Established doctrine and COIN dont exactly mix.


Q:

What secrets could Captains share with Lieutenants that can help them successfully use a map and compass?

A:

I hate to break this one to you...but Lieutenants are a hopeless cause when it comes to navigating. There is no way to make it better. When you become a Captain, there is a secret ritual that is performed where they take your compass and beat you with it repeatedly until you and it are one, and you can never get lost again. Also they give you a GPS.

In all seriousness, I have never understood the navigation thing, because the land nav training at TBS is SO intense. Every prior enlisted officer says its the hardest course they have ever done, by far. So if we can all pass TBS Land Nav as Lieutenants, why is it we suck at land nav in the fleet? I wish I knew...


Q:

Are marines in general more for military interventions or against them?

A:

Honestly, most Marines are apolitical when it comes to this kind of stuff. We are glad to go when we're called upon (many Marines try desperately to deploy anywhere they can, whenever they can), but that doesnt mean we as a fighting force are necessarily itching for a fight. But if a situation arose (think another 9/11 type scenario), you can be damn sure most Marines would be chomping at the bit to get out there and locate, close with, and destroy the enemy by fire and maneuver.


Q:

What is your MOS? Were you happy you received it, and has your opinion of it changed since TBS?

A:

I actually dont do my original MOS anymore, I am a few MOS' beyond at this point. I hated it when I got it, and avoided it at all costs. I spent my first deployment with the grunts (a Regimental Combat Team), then spent my second deployment with the Brits (as a liaison), then became a Logistics Officer to get away from it. Now, I'm a Foreign Security Forces Adviser (0570), so I can train foreign militaries. And that has been my favorite specialty by far.


Q:

I'm guessing you were originally an adjutant? That's cool to experience such a variety of units, though. How'd you transfer around so much?

A:

Nope, wasnt an Adj, but I dont want to say what it was. Its a small community, and if someone else I knew reads this IAmA, they would easily figure it out.


Q:

Is it true only 3 pull ups to get out of boot camp? Marines are not what they used to be.

A:

To be honest, I am not 100% sure off the top of my head that 3 is the minimum, I think its 5. But you're correct, that is VERY weak, and entirely unacceptable to me as well. The PFT (Physical Fitness Test) is broken down into classes (1st, 2nd, etc.) Only performing the minimums will get you the lowest possible class, but you wont be promoted like that.


Q:

idk if it's true these days but in the 80's if you couldn't do 3 pullups when you entered boot camp, they'd put you in a physical conditioning platoon until you met the minimum which used to be nicknamed "pork chop platoon" (physical conditioning platoon). You'd spend at least a week there and perhaps longer until you met the minimums. which was also before you even started boot camp so any time spent there is on top of your 11 weeks.. by the time you completed boot camp i doubt there's anyone not doing substantially more pullups since you'd have spent 11 weeks by then doing countless exercise routines, learning to kip which helps substantially, and also eating only what they served.

A:

99.9% sure that this is still the case. I know that there is still a "fat body" platoon at Boot Camp for those who can only do the minimum, or exceed height/weight standards.


Q:

[deleted]

A:

Kipping isnt allowed in the Marine Corps, not sure about the other branches.


Q:

My father is an amateur radio operator here in Brazil, and he really likes to listen to all kinds of stuff. Specially pointing the antenna to the sky and listening to Satellite comms. There is one in special that is (sorry if it's wrong) Fleet Sat comm - UFO, a bunch of USMC comm sats, that were used during the Gulf war and nowadays a lot of people (pirates) use this sats to communicate illegaly, most commonly truck drivers from Brazil. Do you anything about those satellites, or if they are still operational, for official use?

A:

This one is WAY over my head. Im not a communications officer, and as far as radios and communications go, my experience is to look at my radio operator, tell him "Make this work!", and then hand him some gigantic, heavy, antiquated radio system, while wondering why we are so cheap we cant just buy "black gear" (civilian radios).


Q:

Minor correction, Captain - the Coast Guard is still a branch of the Armed Forces, and still the smallest. They were never DoD; they moved to DHS from the Department of Transportation, and were Department of Treasury before that. They were only under DoD under special declaration, last time being WWII. Their standing as a military service is defined by law and not the department for which they work.

There are five armed (military) services, and seven uniformed services.

And thank you for your service.

A:

I am always hazy on their relationship with the DOD. I know they all under it in a time of war...but forget the rest. Thanks for the clarification!


Q:

"failure to adapt to a military lifestyle"

What does this mean?

A:

It's pretty much saying that even though someone made it through Boot Camp, they don't fit in, or they can't follow the rules or observe proper customs and courtesies. It's A way of separating out Marines who aren't necessarily violating the UCMJ or underperforming at work, just not "getting it".


Q:

[deleted]

A:

It is my belief that military spending in this country is way out of hand. But the majority of it is not going to pay my salary, or for servicemember healthcare, or anything like that. It's usually being spent on some ridiculous new system that we didn't ask for but is being forced on us. The F-35 in place of the A-10 for example. We are spending money on billion dollar planes that don't do what defense contractors say they are going to do. President Eisenhower warned about the military-industrial complex back in the 1950s, and this is the kind of stuff he was talking about. So to answer your question directly, I think we overspend on defense every year by way more than we should, and that money would serve the American people better being reallocated elsewhere.


Q:

I have a couple quick questions. Was it worth it? If you don't mind and still remember what was your asvab score? What is your opinion on the Marines and other branches of military? And lastly, how long did it take for you to become an enlisted officer. And how long from there to captain? Thank you for your time.

A:

I never took the ASVAB, my ACT scores were good enough to get in without it. I have been told that no officer has to take the ASVAB, but I cannot say for sure. The ride has definitely been worth it, I have had some amazing experiences and met some of the greatest people in the world. But I also have had some very tough times. I told my family once that I am in an abusive relationship with the Marine Corps. I always say Im going to leave, and the Marine Corps says "We wont screw you over again! We promise!". And then I believe them and decide to stay. Then the screw me over again, and the cycle is repeated.

It takes 4 years of commissioned time to get to Captain: 2 years from 2ndLt to 1stLt (an automatic promotion), and another 2 years to promote from 1stLt to Captain (not quite automatic, but still extremely high). I have been in for 9 years and 3 weeks, as I reported to OCS in summer 2007.

My opinion of the Marine Corps is this- We are excellent at two things: winning battles and making Marines. But we pretty much suck at the rest! Administratively, we are kind of a mess, and the bureaucracy of the system takes WAY too long to get anything done in. Have a pay issue? Its going to be a few weeks until it gets cleared up. Need a medal that you were awarded added to your record? Wait a month. Things like that are not so fun. However, in a fist fight, I would take 5 random Marines to beat up 10 random Soldiers, Sailors or Airmen any day of the week, and twice on Sunday! That doesnt make the other branches bad, just makes us better!


Q:

During the time away, did you ever miss the smell of Perfume? Thank you for your service.

A:

The smell of the Middle East consists of diesel exhaust, dirt, and decomposing or burning trash. So you really miss the smell of a lot of things. Perfume wasn't a smell that I "missed", but during my first deployment, my girlfriend would write me letters and put a little of her perfume on them. The smell drove me crazy (in a good way).


Q:

Have you ever ordered a "code red"?

A:

A code red could be defined a lot more simply as "hazing". If the term "code red" was ever actually in common parlance in the Marine Corps, it must have been before my time. There are plenty of antiquated words in the Corps these days (pogey bait, gedunk, etc) but the only time I have ever heard "code red" is when people are quoting A Few Good Men.

So have I ever ordered anybody be hazed? Not really. I have insisted that some Marines get "EMI" (Extra Military Instruction) when they are repeatedly screwing things up, and they need to be straightened out. But this isn't hazing, as there is an actual point to it (it isn't about just messing someone up as punishment). I have also turned my back when my platoon sergeant has given a "wall-to-wall counseling" to Marines who sorely needed to be straightened out.


Q:

If you're still willing to answer questions I was wondering, you mentioned having a girlfriend during your first deployment, did she meet a "Jody" or stick it out while you were gone? Was she able to handle the multiple deployments, and how tough was it to do so? How many men that youve met while enlisted actually had their girlfriends or wives cheat on them or leave them due to not being able to handle it?

I know quite a few girls that put up a front that they love their military man, but are also screwing guys back home because their "lonely" so I was just curious on how often the men actually know about these things, or how often it actually happens.

A:

My girlfriend did not cheat on me while I was deployed. However, she didnt handle the multiple deployments thing well. A month after I returned to CONUS from Afghanistan, I almost got sent to Haiti to help with earthquake relief efforts. She was pretty pissed about it, and it did kind of lead towards the end of things between us months later.

I have known a large number of Marines whose spouses cheated on them while they were deployed, and a large amount whose spouses cheated on them while we weren't deployed. I think the life of a military spouse is extremely difficult, and as a result, you see this type of thing happen more often than with other professions. The really negative part about all of this is that it breeds paranoia and distrust in Marines while deployed, even if they previously trusted their spouse.


Q:

How do they find out? Does their SO come out and tell them usually, or do they get told by a friend or family member?

Did you two end things peacefully, or was it a huge thing?

A:

My girlfriend and I did end on a relatively nice note. Most guys aren't so lucky, if their girlfriends/wives are cheating on them, they usually find out through a friend back home, or a friends spouse. The gossip network is huge! Some spouses will come straight out and tell them they are cheating, sometimes they are caught in the act.

ETA: My girlfriend did not cheat on me at all. As previously mentioned, she just couldn't deal with the deployments.


Q:

Do you have any funny stories from your time serving ?

A:

There are 1 million hilarious things that will happen to you in the military, but a lot of them are "inside jokes". There just tough to explain to outsiders. A lot of it involves quoting popular movies or TV. For example, a bunch of us watched "Archer" together. Something that stuck with us was the episode where The office gets a computer virus that consists of a pirate saying "hut hut" and a response of "what what". We somehow I'll pick this up, so when we wanted to find each other, we would yell out "hut hut" and the rest of us would yell back "what what." I'm sure that doesn't sound funny, but it was hilarious to us. Anything is funny when you are in the desert for that amount of time!


Q:

thanks for the answer

A:

I really wish I could give you a better answer, but in order to give you a truly funny story, you would really need to know the details of the situation and the context for what happened. I can think of dozens of things that were hilarious, but in order to explain them, it would take a full page just to provide the context. The Jordanians were hilarious, not because of anything they said, but just because of how they would do ANYTHING they could so skirt out of training 80 degrees was too hot. Below 70 degrees was too cold. Too much sun made it bad for heat exhaustion. Too many clouds made it hard to see. 900 AM was too early to start. 1000 AM was too late. Thursdays (their Fridays), they wanted to be done no later than 1030 so they could all get home for the weekends. Which meant Sundays (their Mondays), they didnt show up until noon. And during periods of instruction, they all wanted breaks every 15 minutes. It was truly funny to see the excuses they came up with, and we laughed about it everytime.


Q:

Sir (tips non-existent cowboy hat), Former Sergeant here (been out ~3 years now)

What's your MOS? You ever put any thought into being an IO (inspecting officer) for MCESG (Marine Corps Embassy Security Group)? Those guys seem to have a kick ass job.. Lots of paperwork but you get to travel and see a bunch of countries..

Source: I was an MSG (Marine Security Guard).. Had a few cool ass Captains and a few that were.... Not so cool?

A:

I'm a LogO. And I would absolutely LOVE that gig. Unfortunately there are only a few spots for IOs, and EVERYONE wants them. I would kill for one of those positions though. If the chance ever arises, I will be jumping on it for sure!


Q:

How many Ka-Bars do you have, and what is your favorite challenge coin you've received?

A:

I only have a single Ka-Bar, and I've never used it for anything. I had a smaller fixed blade knife on my gear (the Seal Pup by SOG), and used that all the time.

As for challenge coin, I got one once from the CG of Second Marine Division, because he laughed at how many goldfish crackers I had shoved into my mouth. I didnt know he was watching...


Q:

Hey!

I'm from the UK, but regardless thanks for your service and doing this AMA!

I just have one question however it's a bit of a broad subject; What's your opinion and experience of Marines adapting back to civilian life after serving? Outside of PTSD and severe mental/physical struggles how easy/hard is it for soldiers to return and get fulfilling jobs, start families and function normally within society? Is there a percent that return and have trouble with authority, politics, non-serving civilians and so on? What amount turn to addictions or other unhealthy things like crime, excessive gambling etc?

Plenty of films like Jarhead, American Sniper, Hurt Locker etc touch on these subjects, but it'd be good to hear from someone who's been there, and as a Captain probably met more than a few Marines.

Thanks!

A:

I have heard very few stories of Marines who were unable to adapt to the civilian world. If you join at 18 years old, serve a single enlistment (4 years), and then become a civilian again at 22-23, only 20% of your life was in uniform. It's not hard to pick it back up. The US military also does a very good job at transitioning Servicemembers out of service and back into society, through a demobilization and transitions program. As veterans status is very prized in America, there are also numerous civilian programs to hire veterans out there. And even though there are a lot of horror stories about the VA, and some of the things they have screwed up over the last few years, by and large they have done a decent job of caring for servicemembers with mental health issues.

Probably the most important aspect of this is the G.I. Bill, which is enabling many service members to earn a bachelors degree or better after they leave service. I used mine while I was in service to obtain a masters degree. It is a truly excellent benefit of serving, and gives veterans a leg up in the job market.

Something else that isn't talk about very frequently is the fact that you often hear stories of servicemembers having difficulty adapting to civilian life, but those same service members joined the military in the first place because they had difficulty in civilian life. There is a sense of belonging in uniform, and sometimes, young people who don't fit in crave that. When their time is up, they transition to the civilian world, but go back to not fitting in, as before they enlisted. This will often get blamed on their status as a veteran, when in reality, they likely didn't fit in before service either. By no means am I saying that this is the case for everybody, but it is something that isn't talked about.

I'm sorry I can't give specific numbers on any of those things, but I am sure someone out there has those answers in statistical form.


Q:

How did so many Marines get killed in the Second Battle of Fallujah? 95 American troops were killed. I'm not sure how many of those 95 were Marines, as opposed to Army guys, but since it was a 95% Marine assignment, I'm assuming it was mostly Marines that were killed. But how were the numbers THAT high? That's a very high number for modern day battles.

A:

The fighting in Fallujah was nasty, nasty stuff, and no amount of technology would help lower the casualty rate from it. It was house to house fighting, clearing every room, stairwell and hallway, 1 at a time. MOUT (Military Operations in Urban Terrain) is rough work that can only be done by kicking in doors and hoping not to get shot. Every door you open could have an enemy behind it waiting to open fire on you at any moment. Additionally, Fallujah held a large number of insurgents (some reports put the number at ~2K) who had weeks to prepare fighting positions and booby traps. This is why we took so many casualties in that operation.


Q:

Sorry for a late question, but this sort of stunned me. The Fallujah insurgents possibly had up to 2k men, and had weeks to prepare and set up booby traps- yet the American marines lost only 95 men. I watch a lot of military history and during the island hopping campaigns of the Pacific fight (against the Japanese in WWII) this same sort of ratio occurred, and Marines fought there as well.

Are marines truly that well trained and professional that they are in one of the most dangerous combat scenarios in a massive metropolitan area against up to 2k men (who are on the defensive at that) and they lose 95 men in the whole fight? Pardon me if the answer is obvious, but from a 16 year old civilian perspective this seems astounding.

A:

Urban operations are something that we train at extensively. Additionally we are coordinated and supported. Specifically, we can evacuate our wounded quickly to the appropriate level of care, and provide care en route. So we might take a lower amount of wounded due to training, but those who are wounded receive the best care possible as quickly as possible.


Q:

Im going to the Citadel next year. A military college. There will be a shit ton of fuck fuck games. In your experience how bad does the greenie weenie fuck you even as an officer? Also Im assuming you are an Infantry Officer. How hard was selection?

A:

The Green Weenie screws everyone, just in different ways. You will probably hear this during your career, but its all about timing. The MOS you want, the billet you want, the promotion boards and career designation boards...everything boils down to timing. I personally have been screwed a number of times, mostly by superiors not looking out for their subordinates. Everyone gets screwed at some point, that is simply the nature of working in a bureaucracy. Dont take it personally though (unless its obviously something done only to you). You have to realize that the military is a huge machine that does the best it can in the big picture, which often means someone on the "little end" is getting screwed over.

Also, Im not an infantry officer, but selection for infantry is easy. Roughly 1/3rd of the slots at my TBS class were for infantry, and everyone who wanted it got it. In fact, a number of guys who didnt want it got it too. You may feel right now that you really want to go infantry, but then after 6 1/2 months of TBS, you might find that it isnt for you. Or find that there is just something else out there you want to do (artillery, MP, pilot, etc).


Q:

Wow! Thanks for answering!

A:

I promise I will answer these questions more in depth later today when I have a minute to sit down and really think it through to give some good answers. Great questions, thanks!


Q:

Thank you for your service and for doing this AMA!

What is a luxury that you are allowed when out on deployment that might be surprising?

In your view, how can/will ISIS be defeated?

What's the greatest amount of danger you have personally experienced as part of your service?

My uncle (British) was a colour sergeant who served in Iraq and Afghan, alongside US forces, and he foldly remembers the banter between the two. Was it like that for you, or being a higher rank was it a more serious atmosphere?

A:

A surprising luxury: the only truly prohibited items are alcohol, personal weapons, and wear of civilian clothing (which in itself is deployment dependent). Aside from that, if it can be shipped to you, you can have it. Food, electronics, comfort items, etc are all pretty much fine. As for the electronics, the hardest thing is finding power for them.

Defeating ISIS isn't a simple process, as that region as a whole is just a mess. Defeat ISIS, and another group will pop up to take its place, unless we maintain an enduring presence in country. In the early 1900s the Marine Corps deployed to many south American countries to secure US interests and maintain security (the Banana wars). If we invaded that region in force to squash ISIS, and then maintained a presence there for maybe 10-15 years (as we did back then), we could conceivably stabilize the region enough for the constant rise and fall of terror groups. But that won't happen unless a truly large scale terror attack (like 9/11) happens.

The greatest amount was probably grenade alley, which one detailed elsewhere in this AMA. You never knew if a rock or a grenade was going to come over that wall at any time, day or night.

We had a great time and a great relationship with the Brits. Especially on the 4th of July, I personally spent the day ridiculing all of them that I could. But we had fun together, and would tease about the various accents from both countries. One of the funnier incidents involved us talking about alcohol. We were discussing various shots that we like back home. I mentioned the "Irish car bomb" (Baileys with whiskey dropped into Guinness) and an Irish soldier was shocked and mildly offended that we had a drink like that in America. I was most surprised that the number of Englishmen in the British army seemed to be much lower than the number of Scottish or Irish or Welsh. We used to joke that there were no English in the British military.


Q:

It's great that you're still answering questions way after the fact. Got a few if you're still game:

  • What'd you get a Master's in? Do you use your education in the Corps?

  • One big characteristic of the US military is the insane amount of money it burns through. What's the biggest waste you've seen? What's the stupidest thing you've been told to do?

  • Can you tell us about of the other militaries you've worked with? You don't seem to think much of the Jordanians, even though DC seems to think of them as pretty capable. Who would you most hate to bump into on a dark night?

  • You mentioned you've seen senior people freak out when the shooting started, and mentioned the politics of rank. Think DoD and USMC leadership could still buckle down and handle Some Real Shit if it happens?

  • What's logistics in the military like? How do you even go about ordering, like, a C-5 or a giant train?

A:

-I got my Masters degree in Criminal Justice. I was planning to get out of the Corps and go into the FBI...but then I ended up staying in. I dont use that degree at all, but Im still glad I have it.

-Biggest waste of money by far has been in the reserve component. Not on the reserves as a whole, but the equipment that reserve units are given that they cannot physically maintain due to manpower shortages. Mostly I'm talking about vehicles which have sat around rotting for a decade, but the reserves dont have the right people (mechanics or otherwise) to appropriately maintain it.

-Stupidest thing: This story might take some background, but in 2009 I was sent a large amount of socks by some friends back home. Where we were, I had no use for them as we were relatively well supplied. So I had a good idea to try to get them out to some grunts I knew who could really put them to use. I contact a bunch of people about putting them on board a helo and having them dropped off at another FOB. The next day, I was suddenly pulled aside by my OIC and chewed out because I didnt offer the socks up to my own unit first. As I mentioned, we didnt need them at all, so it was only natural to get them to the guys who did need them. So I told my OIC to fuck off, and gave the box to a pilot friend of mine who delivered them to some grunts who needed them more.

-I have only worked directly with the Brits and the Jordanians. The Brits are excellent, and I admire their attitude when it comes to service. They are much less formal then we are, they're almost all on a first name basis regardless of rank. It created a very congenial atmosphere. Lots of respect for those guys. Now as for the Jordanians, they have a very small special forces contingent that is excellent. But by and large, they were lazy, spoiled, and took nothing seriously. We joked that if you wanted to become king, you just had to show up with a single fireteam, and you could take over the entire country during one of the many naps they took. And we were working with one of their more "elite" units. I cannot imagine what their "everyday" units were like. Who I most wouldnt want to trifle with would probably be Estonians, based on what I saw of them in Afghanistan. Its not that they were excellent soldiers or anything, they just didnt give a fuck about anything.

-If a real, large scale shooting war broke out, it would be handled just fine. Politics in the military is no new thing, generals have been relieved in every war since the revolution based on politics. And the ones that freak out under fire (I have never seen an officer freak under fire, they were always the senior enlisted type who freaked) are replaced by someone younger and more aggressive. We would be just fine in a big fight.

-Military logistics is simple, you're thinking on too large a scale with the C-5/Train thought. As a logistics officer, my job tends to entail taking a load from one place to another. A Supply officer does the ordering, and I do the moving. I have said it a few times in my life, but the Logistics Officers Course was basically a 4 month convoy school. Thats not to say that Logistics doesnt entail a lot more than that (6 functions of Logistics- Transportation, Maintenance, Supply, General Services, Health Services and General Engineering), but in a nutshell, its the movement of things. The people who order planes and trains are at a much higher level then I, and are contracting officers or in requisitions.


Q:

Non-PC? You are not helping the stereotype that most military people are retards.

A:

Yeah, that stereotype doesnt exist except in your own mind. You should get educated on the topic. The US military is considerably more educated than the general public. 93.6% of enlisted servicemembers have a HS Diploma as opposed to roughly 80% of the general population.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/09/11/military-education-infographic_n_1873842.html

Edit: Typed a "6" instead of "8"