Our Sparkly and Shiny New Social Justice Armed Forces1 (Part II: Going to the Field)
Be sure to read Part I in this series.
You said this is going to be a road march, Top? I’m getting on in years; not sure I’m up to it.
“Trust me on this, sir, if you were in a wheelchair you might not be up to it. If it rained. Otherwise, you’re up to it. Just watch.”
Nice to see that the women are carrying their load, Top.
“I repeat, sir; ‘ Just watch.’”
Hey, Top, what are all the people with cameras and microphones doing here?
“They’re reporters. They show up every time we march out under full load. They’ll be there at the end, too.”
Any of them going to follow along, like I will?
“No, sir; they’re only interested in the photo opportunities at the beginning and end; those, and maybe an interview….and, if you’ll excuse me for a moment, sir, I see Bravo Company has disappeared around the bend. All right you…people…you persons…RUCK UP! Captain Vimpenscheisse; they’re all yours, sir.”
At this point, your humble reporter from the future will interject a compressed version of part of what happened on the road march. On the captain’s order the company moved out at a reasonable pace, maybe a little slower than the normal two and a half miles an hour one might expect, but really not appreciably slower. Then, once the company had passed a bend in the road where the press couldn’t see them anymore, they stopped altogether. Why did they stop? Well, it took a little time for the women – all but a couple of the tougher ones – to empty their rucksacks, hand over the heavier bits of gear to the men, then blow up waterproof bags to give the rucks the appearance of being both full and heavy. The transfer of heavy equipment, the machine guns, radios, and chunks of mortar went quicker. When the women’s load was reduced to what they could hope to carry, usually not more than forty pounds, and the men’s load had gone up to something approaching the maximum they could hope to carry, something over one hundred and sixty pounds, the company took off again at a slightly more brisk pace, maybe three miles an hour.
Ummm…that Hummer’s getting a little overloaded with fallouts, isn’t it, Top? And I note they’re all women.
“Not all, sir; Corporal Schmidlap hurt his back trying to carry the loads of three of the mortar girls on his own. He’s in there, too.”
Oh, right; I see the one male now. Gutsy of him to try to carry all that.
“Not so much gutsy as horny, sir. Those three girls from the mortars will, I assure you, make it up to him in many delightful and varied ways over the next couple of weeks. Note, too, that when he fell out and got on the Hummer he took the pieces of the mortars with him.”
I see. Hmmmm…that will make it tougher if the mortars have to do a hasty fire mission, no?
“What’s success in battle compared to getting a favorable diversity comment on an OER, sir?”
Good point, I suppose. Who am I to judge, anyway; I didn’t have to put up with this kind of thing when I was a company commander. Hey, what’s with that squad of men who aren’t carrying any extra gear?
“That’s the gay squad, sir. Most units that have gays have formed one – a squad or a fire team or a tank crew or two, or maybe a gun section for the redlegs – so to speak, unofficially. They like it better that way and so do the others.”
But why aren’t they carrying extra gear like all the straight men?
“The captain tried to make them, after Dawn, his driver, threatened to shut him off if he wouldn’t. The gays, who have their own Zampolits, said – and this is exactly what they said; I was there: ‘Fuck off, sir; there’s nothing in it for us and we’ll go to the papers and the politicians if you try to make us.”
“I think they had a pretty good case, myself. And Dawn wasn’t sure who would win that fight. Neither was the battalion Zampolit, von Ruggenmunschen, so they let it slide. And the gays do pull their own weight, at least, gotta give ‘em that much.”
What about…mmm…who was it? ‘Loretta,’ who claimed to be pregnant?
“Different case, sir, totally different; Loretta claims to be female and straight, even though physically a male. Hence we are required to treat…her…I suppose it has to be her…as what she claims to be. Thus totally different circumstances, as I’m sure you can see.
Yes…totally different…of course.
And, once again, your humble reporter has to compress a bit toward the end of the road march. That is to say, about one mile from the release point, the point where the battalion’s subordinate units are released to the authority of their own commanders, they stopped once again. The women, but not Schmidlap who seemed to really have hurt himself, were hustled off the fallout Hummer. The heavy weapons and other pieces of equipment that the men had carried for the last six hours were passed back but there didn’t seem to be time to return the personal gear, so the rucksacks of most of the women remained filled largely with air.
After that, Captain von Vimpenscheissen gave the company the orders, “forward…MARCH…doubletime…MARCH,” and the company ran to the release point, singing and clapping, while a horde of admiring journalists (if it isn’t linguistic matricide to use the term to describe the people waiting there) oooed and ahhhed, took photos, and scribbled furiously into notebooks or their electronic equivalents.
And then the first sergeant came back to where I stood, smiling broadly, in that way some men and women have of smiling while boiling inside.
“We’ll be going back as soon as the cattle cars get here, sir. I’ve arranged for a ride for you back to garrison.”
Why, Top? I thought this was supposed to be a two-week exercise?
“We just got orders, the whole division, to get ready to fly to…well…I can’t tell you that part; it’s classified. Short version, though, we’re going to war.”
With this rabble? You’ve got to be shitting me, Top.
“I only wish I were.”
Part III next week; going to war.
Be sure to read Part I in this series.
1 This column is dedicated to Liz Bourke, a reviewer and blogger at TOR.com
Photo by Chris Superseal/Getty Images
Tom Kratman is a retired infantry lieutenant colonel, recovering attorney, and science fiction and military fiction writer. His latest novel, The Rods and the Axe, is available from Amazon.com for $9.99 for the Kindle version, or $25 for the hardback. A political refugee and defector from the People’s Republic of Massachusetts, he makes his home in Blacksburg, Virginia. He holds the non-exclusive military and foreign affairs portfolio for EveryJoe. Tom’s books can be ordered through baen.com.
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