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A French Infantryman's View of American Soldiers

Discussion in 'General Firearm Discussion' started by twoclones, Dec 18, 2009.

  1. twoclones

    twoclones Tri-Cities, WA Well-Known Member

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    A French Infantryman's View of American Soldiers

    Written by: host
    Subject: [warrior$] French view

    Military by Jean-Marc Liotier

    American troops in Afghanistan through the eyes of a French OMLT infantryman

    The US often hears echoes of worldwide hostility against the application of its foreign policy, but seldom are they reached by the voices of those who experience first hand how close we are to the USA . In spite of contextual political differences and conflicting interests that generate friction, we do share the same fundamental values - and when push comes to shove that is what really counts. Through the eyes of that French OMLT (Operational Mentoring Liaison Teams) infantryman you can see how strong the bond is on the ground. In contrast with the Americans, the French soldiers don't seem to write much online - or maybe the proportion is the same but we just have less people deployed. Whatever the reason, this is a rare and moving testimony which is why I decided to translate it into English, so that American people can catch a glimpse of the way European soldiers see them. Not much high philosophy here, just the first hand impressions of a soldier in contact - but that only makes it more authentic.

    Here is the original French article, http://omlt3-kdk3.over-blog.com/article-22935665.html

    and here is my translation :

    "We have shared our daily life with two US units for quite a while - they are the first and fourth companies of a prestigious infantry battalion whose name I will withhold for the sake of military secrecy. To the common man it is a unit just like any other. But we live with them and got to know them, and we henceforth know that we have the honor to live with one of the most renowned units of the US Army - one that the movies brought to the public as series showing "ordinary soldiers thrust into extraordinary events". Who are they, those soldiers from abroad, how is their daily life, and what support do they bring to the men of our OMLT every day? Few of them belong to the Easy Company, the one the TV series focuses on. This one nowadays is named Echo Company, and it has become the support company.

    They have a terribly strong American accent - from our point of view the language they speak is not even English. How many times did I have to write down what I wanted to say rather than waste precious minutes trying various pronunciations of a seemingly common word? Whatever state they are from, no two accents are alike and they even admit that in some crisis situations they have difficulties understanding each other.
    Heavily built, fed at the earliest age with Gatorade, proteins and creatine (Heh. More like Waffle House and McDonalds) - they are all heads and shoulders taller than us and their muscles remind us of Rambo. Our frames are amusingly skinny to them - we are wimps, even the strongest of us - and because of that they often mistake us for Afghans.

    Here we discover America as it is often depicted: their values are taken to their paroxysm, often amplified by promiscuity and the loneliness of this outpost in the middle of that Afghan valley. Honor, motherland - everything here reminds of that: the American flag floating in the wind above the outpost, just like the one on the post parcels. Even if recruits often originate from the hearth of American cities and gang territory, no one here has any goal other than to hold high and proud the star spangled banner. Each man knows he can count on the support of a whole people who provides them through the mail all that an American could miss in such a remote front-line location: books, chewing gums, razorblades, Gatorade, toothpaste etc. in such way that every man is aware of how much the American people backs him in his difficult mission. And that is a first shock to our preconceptions: the American soldier is no individualist. The team, the group, the combat team are the focus of all his attention.

    And they are impressive warriors! We have not come across bad ones, as strange at it may seem to you when you know how critical French people can be. Even if some of them are a bit on the heavy side, all of them provide us everyday with lessons in infantry know-how. Beyond the wearing of a combat kit that never seem to discomfort them (helmet strap, helmet, combat goggles, rifles etc.) the long hours of watch at the outpost never seem to annoy them in the slightest. On the one square meter wooden tower above the perimeter wall they stand the five consecutive hours in full battle rattle and night vision goggles on top, their sight unmoving in the directions of likely danger. No distractions, no pauses, they are like statues nights and days. At night, all movements are performed in the dark - only a handful of subdued red lights indicate the occasional presence of a soldier on the move. Same with the vehicles whose lights are covered - everything happens in pitch dark even filling the fuel tanks with the Japy pump.

    And combat? If you have seen Rambo you have seen it all - always coming to the rescue when one of our teams gets in trouble, and always in the shortest delay. That is one of their tricks: they switch from T-shirt and sandals to combat ready in three minutes. Arriving in contact with the enemy, the way they fight is simple and disconcerting: they just charge! They disembark and assault in stride, they bomb first and ask questions later - which cuts any pussyfooting short.

    (This is the main area where I'd like to comment. Anyone with a passing knowledge of Kipling knows the lines from Chant Pagan: 'If your officer's dead and the sergeants look white/remember it's ruin to run from a fight./So take open order, lie down, sit tight/And wait for supports like a soldier./ This, in fact, is the basic philosophy of both British and Continental soldiers. 'In the absence of orders, take a defensive position.' Indeed, virtually every army in the world. The American soldier and Marine, however, are imbued from early in their training with the ethos: In the Absence of Orders: Attack! Where other forces, for good or ill, will wait for precise orders and plans to respond to an attack or any other 'incident', the American force will simply go, counting on firepower and SOP to carry the day.

    This is one of the great strengths of the American force in combat and it is something that even our closest allies, such as the Brits and Aussies (that latter being closer by the way) find repeatedly surprising. No wonder is surprises the **** out of our enemies.)

    We seldom hear any harsh word, and from 5 AM onwards the camp chores are performed in beautiful order and always with excellent spirit. A passing American helicopter stops near a stranded vehicle just to check that everything is alright; an American combat team will rush to support ours before even knowing how dangerous the mission is - from what we have been given to witness, the American soldier is a beautiful and worthy heir to those who liberated France and Europe.

    To those who bestow us with the honor of sharing their combat outposts and who everyday give proof of their military excellence, to those who pay the daily tribute of America's army's deployment on Afghan soil, to those we owned this article, ourselves hoping that we will always remain worthy of them and to always continue hearing them say that we are all the same band of brothers."

    Much of this the various veterans reading will go 'Well, duh. Of course we do our 'camp chores' and stand our posts in good order. There's a reason for them and if we didn't we'd get our heads handed to us eventually. And, yeah, we're in shape. Makes battle easier. The more you sweat, the less you bleed.'

    What is hard for most people to comprehend is that that attitude represented only the most elite units of the past. Current everyday conventional boring 'leg infantry' units exceed the PT levels and training levels of most Special Forces during the Vietnam War. They exceed both of those as well as IQ and educational levels of: Waffen SS, WWII Rangers, WWII Airborne and British 'Commando' units during WWII. Their per-unit combat-functionality is essentially unmeasurable because it has to be compared to something and there's nothing comparable in industrial period combat history.

    This group is so much better than 'The Greatest Generation' at war that WWII vets who really get a close look at how good these kids are stand in absolute awe.

    So much of 'The scum of the earth, enlisted for drink.'

    Everyone complains about the quality of 'the new guys.' Don't. The screw-ups of this modern generation are head and shoulders above the 'high-medium' of any past group. Including mine.

    This is 'The Greatest Generation' of soldiers.

    They may never be equaled.

    I wish to **** this would actually get reprinted in the NYT.
  2. elsullo

    elsullo Portland Oregon New Member

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    I'm too choked up to say any more.....................elsullo :thumbup:
  3. ajf1

    ajf1 beaverton Member

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    Yes I wish this would get more publication also. Thanks for the translation
  4. twoclones

    twoclones Tri-Cities, WA Well-Known Member

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    Just for accuracy, it's not my translation. I found the whole bit elsewhere and wanted to share it. :)
  5. Descendant

    Descendant Eugene, Oregon Member

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    Interesting read. Thanks.
  6. trainsktg

    trainsktg Portland OR Well-Known Member

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    A few years ago I read a similar (in spirit) essay written by an Australian soldier. The common soldier, Marine and sailor continue to be superb ambassadors for our great country.

    Keith (Its too bad our current crop of politicians don't give them the same respect they garner from foreigners :( . They're too busy posing for CNN. )
  7. PMKN_PI

    PMKN_PI Milwaukie, Oregon, United States Active Member

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    Jack Murtha should be in prison getting savagely beaten daily.
  8. RVNvet

    RVNvet Beaverton Member

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    This goes to reinforce what I've been gradually learning from t.v. over the past year or so: today's American warriors are the best we've ever produced, and probably that goes for any country. I'm a proud Vietnam vet, and served well, but there's no way I could ever have physically matched any of our current soldiers...they are truly awesome! Even in my time, I was lucky in that I was a gunner on a Huey, so my bird did most of my 'carrying' for me!

  9. clearconscience

    clearconscience Vancouver, WA Well-Known Member

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    But who would run the airport???? Well does anyone really need to run it?

    I was speaking with one of my customers recently. A regular guy, happy go lucky. Well it turns out he retired fromt he DEA, worked for the DOD, and was recuited by the agency to work in Iraq. He was working closely with US soldiers and we were talking about the heroism of our men and women over there and he was telling me that things of legend from the battlefield were a daily event there.
    One incident he mentioned, he was swimming in a pool at one of uday's offices when the mortor alarms started sounding, he was swimming like **** to get out of the pool and there was a Navy kid standing on the edge of the pool, he didn't ru, didn't take cover, he stood there by the pool until he got close enough grabbed his hand and this kid pulled him out of the pool with amazing strength, pushed him in front and they ran for cover.

    And when you think about it this wasn't any hard battle, no bullets flying, but for someone especially so young to disregard their own safety to help a stranger to safety is really pretty powerful.
    And that's nothing compared to what so many others have done.
  10. plinkerneil

    plinkerneil Oregon New Member

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    Amen to that. The only bunch that has ever come close might be the Romans during their early Empire--same dedication to perfection in training and in battle, and the same feeling of duty to country.

    Stand in awe, be amazed. Nothing lasts forever, but we live in a time when legends-to-be walk the Earth in broad daylight.
  11. shooter

    shooter Ridgefield Member

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    Thanks for putting in the time to post this! :thumbup:

    And a Special Thanks to all who serve this Great Country!
  12. tac

    tac UK, Oregon and Ontario. Well-Known Member

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    He wasn't a stranger, he was another American.

    And just to make a point here, in the last week, four British soldiers have died protecting others by putting their bodies between suicide bombers and mostly Afghan civilians, at the cost of their own lives.

    It's a soldier thing...to protect others.

  13. ak56

    ak56 Carnation, Wa Active Member

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