Bubblehead at The Stupid Shall Be Punished notes an interesting item on the blog of Command Sergeant Major Michael T. Hall, International Security Assistance Force, Afghanistan. ISAF will be shutting down Orange Julius, Burger King, Pizza Hut, Dairy Queen and Military Car Sales concessions. It it also seeking to reduce the amount of canned and bottled goods coming into Afghanistan, and—strangely—first-run feature films and non-USO entertainment.
There are, no doubt, sound reasons for GEN McChrystal and CSM Hall to make these changes. Perhaps the rear-echelon areas do need to get re-focused on supporting the warfighter out in the field, far from the big bases. Perhaps the dangers of road-transporting all this stuff outweighs the benefit; nobody should be getting killed for the privilege of eating Pizza Hut, after all. This is also why the Air Force flies 165 airlift sorties a month, to lessen the amount of food, gear and people that have to travel along IED-vulnerable roads.
The comments are instructive; there are some positive remarks, but I think it fair to say the vast majority are perplexed if not appalled. My own sensibilities are ably reflected by a couple of Bubblehead’s commenters, whose thoughts I will reproduce here (any emphases are mine).
What I don’t get about this is, does it take that much more room to ship a BK hamburger over to Afghanistan than a regular ol’ unbranded mess hall one? If they’re putting all the pizzas in cardboard boxes, that sounds like reducible waste, but come on. Food is food, unless everything they eat is dehydrated.
The movie thing seems ridiculous, and likely to backfire as the alternative ways soldiers find to spend their time probably aren’t going to include mastering the violin or reading the classics.
— Anonymous, 25 March 2010 1718
No, Nein, Nyet!!
Now, I’ve not done an IA tour, but I see this as a pointless endeavor in trying to make headlines along with fortifying our next SITREP.
Give the folks on the ground who are pounding sand a break wouldja’ please?! Those simple things like pizza hut and theaters are a biggy for those who serve over there. Umm, what useful purpose does it serve to minimize these areas of comfort?
What?…do you need more room? Is that it? You’re in the middle of the stinkin’ desert. You have more “potential” real estate than you know what to do with. Ever flown in to Vegas? For those who have not been there, I can say when you look out the starboard porthole of the plane while descending to McCarran Airport, you see nothing more than desert. Vegas is in the middle of the desert. You have ample square footage to build on.
Now back to the sand box across the seas. You have more than enough room if needed. There is no reason to take away the comforts of home. Again, I’ll admit I’ve never been there, but please don’t fuck it up for all the ground troops who are sweating it out so you can look good for your next Eval.
— MT1(SS) WidgetHead, 25 March 2010 1801
If the purpose is to remember that the focus is on winning the war, perhaps there should be austerity programs back home too.
Rationing, warbonds, etc.
It seems the US People have lost the focus, not the soldiers.
— Anonymous, 26 March 2010 0452
The last quote says it all, really. The people that need to be reminded that there is a war on are not the men and women who are already deployed to the Sandbox. It is the citizenry back home in North America who are blessedly far removed from any hardship, privation and danger.
RELATED: Mr. Brooks of The Torch has cogent thoughts as well.