first-hand army accounts

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wojtek
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Sep 22 2015 23:50
first-hand army accounts

Anyone ever been or currently in the military? I've considered joining a number of times and not interested in ignorant off-the-peg critiques.

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Pennoid
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Sep 22 2015 23:53

Bump would like to see more info like this. Practical experience oriented info about military life from commies or anarchists.

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gram negative
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Sep 23 2015 00:26

I almost joined, as well, when I was younger. My father did twenty years; he had to deal with racism because of his dark skin. He told me to go into the coast guard or air force if I was going to join the military.

Regarding your questions (I was around the military for about 17 years) , the military is incredibly bureacratic and hierarchical, so keep that in mind. The pension is getting phased out; it can be difficult to get continuing payment and treatment for injuries incurred; the pay is shit; the job you do does not necessarily translate to the civilian world; the educational funds are not immediately available and can be difficult to use; you have to get up really early all the time.

However, it is appealing to people who want total institutions that dictate everything from when and what you eat to where you live - you don't have to think about rent and such.

vicent
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Sep 23 2015 05:13

I met an Anarchist the other day, he was shown anarchism by his general! And he quickly left, I'll ask him to post something. He told me there is no personal freedom whatsoever, potentially extremely dangerous

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jondwhite
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Sep 23 2015 14:19

Try this, an ex-swappie but nonetheless
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Soldier-Box-Wont-Return-Terror/dp/1781680922

wojtek
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Sep 23 2015 15:23

may i ask why you nearly joined gram? thanks vicent.

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gram negative
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Sep 23 2015 16:05
wojtek wrote:
may i ask why you nearly joined gram? thanks vicent.

There were a few factors at work. Being a military brat sets you up to entertain the structure of the military, which is a strategy of the U.S. armed forces to grow their ranks with people who have familiarity with the vicissitudes of military life. I was in my first year of college at the time and was having a difficult time adjusting to it, failing courses and generally unhappy, so I took the ASVAB and I got to the point before signing away my life before I backed out. While I wasn't as politically formed back then, I still was anti-war, which with the 6-year minimum for the job I was signing up for, as well as my life experience with the bureaucracy and hierarchy of the military (two things I hated in civilian jobs already), made me decide not to do it. The recruiters are sleazy; promotions in the military are done now by accruing points for various accomplishments - which for recruiters includes a quota.

petey
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Sep 23 2015 18:29
gram negative wrote:
The pension is getting phased out

really? is there any substitute, a 401K or something?

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gram negative
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Sep 23 2015 19:48
petey wrote:
gram negative wrote:
The pension is getting phased out

really? is there any substitute, a 401K or something?

Those receiving a pension will continue to receive that, but current troops have a choice between the old plan and the new one, but all new recruits after 2017 will be part of the new plan, which is a 401k

wojtek
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Sep 24 2015 22:32

There's some oral accounts on the VFP (UK) youtube channel - of course they're quite one sided.

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Reddebrek
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Sep 24 2015 22:18
wojtek wrote:
Anyone ever been or currently in the military? I've considered joining a number of times and not interested in ignorant off-the-peg critiques.

Mind if I ask why your considering joining?

I was going to join the Navy like a lot of my family but poor balance had me considering joining the Army. I didn't support the wars in Iraq or Afghanistan, but neither did a lot of the guys I knew who did join.

I was considering becoming an Engineer but the local TA regiment was the para engineers and there attitude to killing and insecurity about being engineers repelled me. I was also reading a lot of books like War is a Racket (very surprised Peace campaigners don't push this little book every chance they get) and just got more and more sick of it. Several 18 years old in my area were also killed around the same time, some of whom I thought where my mates who'd been deployed. Pretty much killed my desires to go anywhere near a recruiting office.

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plasmatelly
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Sep 25 2015 05:36

I work everyday with dozens of ex-army types. On an individual level they're not bad to talk to, as a group they are right-wing bigoted cunts that know everything there is to know about the world outside the army and dismiss it as foreign and dangerous. If I hear one more fucking story about Arabs and IED's...

wojtek
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Sep 25 2015 20:46
Quote:
Mind if I ask why your considering joining?

I'm not at present. The first time, I was unemployed and attracted to the self-discipline and camaraderie. The second was following Alan Henning and it seemed a more worthwhile and honourable project than my work situation. However, I was already aware of the British state's historical & current expedient support for islamists (Mark Curtis). After reading their journalism and watching the documentary The Lion's Last Roar, I'd like to know what advice William Dalrymple and James Meek would give, what they would do.

elraval2
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Sep 25 2015 21:46

Hi wojtek,
Joining the Army was a better option than your current work situation? May I ask what your job was at that point in time?

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Serge Forward
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Sep 27 2015 00:30

I thought of joining the army when I left school. It was in the 70s and the adverts at the time said you got to go water skiing in Florida. It looked dead glamorous compared to the boring semi-skilled machine-minding I was doing at the time. Then the penny dropped and the realisation hit me that it was far more likely I'd get sent to Norn Iron to get shot at by the IRA or have bored kids lob bricks and mollies at my bonce. So I fucked the idea off pronto. A good mate of mine did join up and immediately regretted it, hated every minute and eventually managed to buy himself out. Another poor bastard I knew who didn't buy himself out ended up a chronic alcoholic with an assortment of serious mental and physical disorders. I would be amazed if he's still alive. Worthwhile and honorable? Nah it's a cunt's job... either that or it'll make a cunt out an honorable person. Fuck that shit right off pal.

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Sep 27 2015 09:24

Serge #16

'Another poor bastard I knew who didn't buy himself out ended up a chronic alcoholic with an assortment of serious mental and physical disorders. I would be amazed if he's still alive.'

This happened to my cousin, eventually left on his own (he'd messed up his wife and kids) and dead in his mid fifties. Before the army I remember him as a big easy going bloke. Last time I saw him, many years ago, he'd grown his hair long as he was doing duty in N.I.

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Sep 27 2015 10:38

My experience can't really be compared to those risking being send off to live conflict. I can however say something general about being in the military as I did (non voluntary) military service.

I found it mindnumbing, literally. Frequently having to do re-runs of thoughts because there was no worthwhile input. Any other way of spending your time is better. Anything learned is better learnt in other circumstances.

I'm going to generalize in ways I know are unfair but there are people who enjoy military life and even 'grow' by it. My observations however is that to appreciate the experience you have to either be in dire need of structure or enjoy being the boss (or hoping to become one). Another group who did hate it but perhaps grew by it was people who had very little experience of physical and psycological pressure and exhaustion. I.e those who are a bit soft. Sorry couldn't think of a better term.

The only good things were having a strict morning ritual (not a morning person...) and being out in the arctic forest and having things go badly. The latter one I enjoyed because I'm used to it and atleast something interesting is happening.

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Steven.
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Sep 28 2015 12:45

I have not been in it personally, but my cousin was. Also either had or developed very serious mental health problems, and after he got out he got jailed for armed robbery.

petey
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Sep 28 2015 15:28
Reddebrek wrote:
I was also reading a lot of books like War is a Racket (very surprised Peace campaigners don't push this little book every chance they get)

it's big with ancaps, but it is strong stuff. the author was the most decorated marine of his time (and a quaker?).

http://www.ratical.org/ratville/CAH/warisaracket.pdf

elraval2
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Sep 28 2015 15:48

I've never known anyone in the armed forces but I went to a school right next to an estate with housing for people in the army and their families, therefore all the kids that passed through the estate ended up at our school.

They were always distant, didn't say much and were generally left to themselves by the teachers. It's obvious now, but when I was 11 or 12 I didn't understand why they kept themselves to themselves and always seemed kind of gloomy - what's the point trying or making friends when you'll only get moved somewhere else pretty soon? Fucking sad.

Serge Forward, the TA adverts were the same when I was 16 and thinking of signing up. That was around 2003. Scenes of guys skiing, jumping out of planes etc. All very exciting. I remember around that time there was a campaign against the fact that these recruitment videos had absolutely NO scenes of combat in them. I have no idea if they've changed at all.

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Sep 28 2015 16:15
elraval2 wrote:
these recruitment videos had absolutely NO scenes of combat in them. I have no idea if they've changed at all.

And why weren't the actionman adverts ever more realistic, like this?

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Sep 28 2015 18:56
elraval2 wrote:
Serge Forward, the TA adverts were the same when I was 16 and thinking of signing up. That was around 2003. Scenes of guys skiing, jumping out of planes etc.

A true army advert would show shitloads of waiting. Waiting in vehicles. Waiting in some depressing army building. Waiting out in nowhere. Waiting in bunkbeds. Waiting in the cold. Waiting in the wet. Waiting in the hot.

Not forgetting it would also show lots of maintaining of stuff. Maintaining ropes. Maintaining weapons. Maintaining tarpaulin. Maintaining camo nets. Maintaining weapons. Maintaining boots.

If there is to much waiting (to much is an incredible amount) you can have various made up tasks involving moving things between buildings. Checking inventories and so on.

Great rewarding fun it is not. Nevermind the fact that you're the murderous physical defence of everything you hate.

elraval2
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Sep 29 2015 00:15

Wonderfully said, Cooked.

Actually, come to think of it, sounds like pretty much every job I've ever had.

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Oct 2 2015 14:18
petey wrote:
Reddebrek wrote:
I was also reading a lot of books like War is a Racket (very surprised Peace campaigners don't push this little book every chance they get)

it's big with ancaps, but it is strong stuff. the author was the most decorated marine of his time (and a quaker?).

http://www.ratical.org/ratville/CAH/warisaracket.pdf

Yes Smedley's work is weirdly popular with them, I find that very odd as unlike their other idols he explicitly attacked Capitalism itself, not the corporate oligarchy, or crony capitalism or whatever substitution is popular now. I guess they're ignoring the part where private companies did things like sell spoiled food to soldiers to focus on the US Government giving out said spoiled food.

I've seen this before when they talk about private military companies, ignore the business angle to focus on the state involvement.

elraval2 wrote:
I've never known anyone in the armed forces but I went to a school right next to an estate with housing for people in the army and their families, therefore all the kids that passed through the estate ended up at our school.

They were always distant, didn't say much and were generally left to themselves by the teachers. It's obvious now, but when I was 11 or 12 I didn't understand why they kept themselves to themselves and always seemed kind of gloomy - what's the point trying or making friends when you'll only get moved somewhere else pretty soon? Fucking sad.

Yeah that's another nasty side of it. My dad was in the Navy so we moved around a lot, although we were lucky as we mainly stayed in Gibraltar and North Wales, and Plymouth, some RAF families got moved all over Europe.

Quote:
Serge Forward, the TA adverts were the same when I was 16 and thinking of signing up. That was around 2003. Scenes of guys skiing, jumping out of planes etc. All very exciting. I remember around that time there was a campaign against the fact that these recruitment videos had absolutely NO scenes of combat in them. I have no idea if they've changed at all.

Well, they've changed a little in that they now admit there are `threats` involved but its still rather sanitised. I remember one RAF ad from a year or two ago that stuck in my head as it showed some guys actually building an AA nest and the `hero` targeted it for attack. Weirdly the two fellow's building the nest had already run off by the time the Jet came to blow it up, so there was no blood. This was around the time that the Navy were advertising by focusing on there role in disaster relief, so helicopters dropping bottles of water instead of Tomahawk missiles on compounds.

Now the Navy's pushing the `made in the Royal Navy` line, saying Naval life will unlock your potential.

Cooked wrote:
A true army advert would show shitloads of waiting. Waiting in vehicles. Waiting in some depressing army building. Waiting out in nowhere. Waiting in bunkbeds. Waiting in the cold. Waiting in the wet. Waiting in the hot.

Not forgetting it would also show lots of maintaining of stuff. Maintaining ropes. Maintaining weapons. Maintaining tarpaulin. Maintaining camo nets. Maintaining weapons. Maintaining boots.

^This^ I never went through with joining up but I was a Sea Cadet and when you get to about 16-18 they start preparing you for proper forces life. I spent a few Summers on a Destroyer and we had to act like proper Naval personnel (though not as harsh) drill, weird gestures and responses and a lot of waiting. I nearly collapsed from dehydration twice just standing there waiting for someone I didn't know to finish or start blathering on about pride and discipline and whatever.

My Uncle who was in the RAF but didn't make pilot also spent his days just doing busy work, he spent all his free time and pay in airfield bar and mustered out as soon as he could. The only real work he ever did was clean up at Lockerbie, after that he was done.

wojtek
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Oct 9 2015 13:53

Note the similarity between the navy and the open university ads.

Quote:
May I ask what your job was at that point in time?

Similar to Serge, but swap florida with the literature of Mishima & Murakami.

S. Artesian
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Oct 9 2015 20:57

Don't do it. Period.

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laborbund
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Oct 14 2015 04:21

When I was around 10-12 years old my family lived at Ft Leavenworth, KS., and there were always more than a few officers from the UK and commonwealth countries attending Command and General Staff College there. From that I learned that the British Army is, generally, better dressed, more theatrical, and has fancier close order drill than the American Army. So yes, Wotjek, you should definitely join.

Actually fuck that. Gram is right that being a military brat sets you up for joining the military and that, that isn't unintentional. I had similar experiences in my early adult life when I found that I was failing miserably and I got quite nearly through the process before backing out. Like a got right up to MEPS a couple of times. I was failing because I was conditioned my whole life to be a soldier and when I didn't do it, what the fuck do I do now? I felt incredibly uncomfortable and really quite shameful around people who had grown up in the civilian world because I was always aware that I had grown up inside the murder factory and that I was a monster, unfit to be around these people. I always felt that I was struggling ferociously to put on my very best impression of a human being and that my impression sucked.

I feel like I see this same thing pretty frequently among soldiers who are just reentering the civilian world. I'm a lot more comfortable now, but I still feel pretty weird as I often lack a common frame of reference with others.

The military is alluring because it promises to give meaning to our lives through the camaraderie, the identification that everybody there has with an important communal mission. I'm telling you, you can get this just as well just as often through participation in the communist movement. The military is alluring to young people because it promises to fix their financial woes, give them self-discipline, etc. I think most people leave that shit behind when they leave the military. Its more likely that life after you're done is just spent in this weird alone time forever.

Sorry for getting all weird about since it seems like you wanted more nuts and bolts but others had it very well covered.