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Ask a Soldier

Discussion in 'Off-Topic' started by Flying Pig, Jul 20, 2009.

  1. IglooDude

    IglooDude Enforcing Rule 34 Retired Moderator

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    This has been my experience as well. Mustangs tend to be really solid, or a sort of walking parody of a tinpot dictator. Fortunately the vast majority are the former.
     
  2. Glassfan

    Glassfan Mostly harmless

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    You were in the Para's? Did you know Max Hastings?
     
  3. Flying Pig

    Flying Pig Utrinque Paratus Moderator

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    On looking him up, he was that journalist who was with us in the Falklands - didn't remember the man's name. I never liked reporters much (didn't help that with hair like his he was automatically on my list of people not to take seriously), and went out of my way to avoid them - it was only when we boarded the ships that we stopped being journalists' hate-figures, and whether through malice or simple bad reporting they generally presented us in a pretty poor light whenever they were involved anywhere. Luckily I was junior enough as a subaltern to not be particularly interesting to him and he picked on my more senior or reporter-friendly colleagues.
     
  4. Samez

    Samez ION GUNNER

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    Please feel free to ignore my questions if they are too personal:

    - How did your family react on you becoming a soldier? Was it like "we are proud of you" or more like "it's the most stupid decision you ever made, stay at home and don't get injured/killed"?

    - Is keeping in touch with family (e.g. wife) more difficult being a paratrooper as their communication lines back home tend to be a bit longer than regular troops?

    - Would you (or perhaps did you) recommend your own children to join the troops?
     
  5. Flying Pig

    Flying Pig Utrinque Paratus Moderator

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    It was a mixed reaction - my father had, like most of his generation, served in the artillery during the war (in fact, I was conceived while he was on leave), but my elder brother lost his life at the Imjin in Korea, so there was a mix of unspoken pride and unspoken worry. Outwardly he said I was an idiot for joining the infantry rather than either going on to university or a corps which could have given me a trade, but he'd always idolised the airborne men and I could tell he was secretly proud that his son was one of them.

    I was never married, despite having a fair few long-term relationships. Generally they aren't much longer, unless you're with special forces in which case there will be more times when they're completely non-existant - generally whenever we're in any sort of semi-permenant base we had the BFPO sending and delivering mail, and more recently they've set up satellite phone links in Camp Bastion and places like that.

    I don't have children of my own, but I looked after my nephew until a few years ago, when he went off to the Parachute Regiment. It's a cliche, but I tried to make sure that I didn't push him into it, and while I can't claim to have had no influence on his decision I'm confident that it was the right one for him and that he had plenty of other options. He finished his Phase 2 training last year and has been posted to my old battalion, where he's apparently doing very well indeed - he has to be on his best behaviour as his RSM was a young tom in my last platoon, and we're still in touch!
     
  6. kochman

    kochman Deity

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    As a fellow paratrooper, I'll take a stab.

    *Pride & fear... they were proud, but worried (as I was going to be in the infantry, especially). Dad didn't really have a leg to stand on though, as I was following in his footsteps.

    *Definitely harder when we parachuted into country... the resupply when behind enemy lines is generally by either air drop, or actual air landing... air landing being better. It took about 2 weeks to send/receive letters.

    *Depends, too open ended of a question...
     
  7. Samez

    Samez ION GUNNER

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    Thanks for your answers!
    Might just add two more questions:

    - What are the (standard) combat situations light infantry should avoid at (nearly) any cost? My guess would be being pinned down by heavy artillery but airstrikes would also be quite nasty as both situations are hard to strike back.

    - Did the paras carry nbc equipment during cold war? I've read a bit about nbc protection in vehicles (which was IMHO a bit excessive for Nato troops) but didn't find anything about infantry.
     
  8. Flying Pig

    Flying Pig Utrinque Paratus Moderator

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    In general, if we're not at a huge advantage in every way, we don't like to do it. Fighting fair isn't very popular because that means we might lose. Much better to have lots and lots of men with lots and lots of guns and air support and pound the enemy into submission. That said, I think the least fun I've ever had in combat was when we were attacking Goose Green, in 1982 - my company advanced into heavy fire and eventually managed to hole ourselves up in an old school-house, at which point we realised that the enemy had an anti-aircraft gun pointed at us because they started putting shells through the walls! At that point we had far too little artillery or armoured support, so we had to advance - as it turned out, sheer balls and aggression won us the day.

    Oh yes - and a great deal of our training, including PT and shooting competitions, was done in the stuff as well. It was horrible, but we did this drill where we applied tape coated with a certain (not harmful, although the Russians allegedly did the same with nerve gas) chemical to our arms, legs, chest and face, and then put on NBC gear and stood in trenches while the RAF sprayed the area with a chemical that turns the tape red. Anyone caught with red tape was declared 'dead', but after one attempt we proved that properly fitted NBC gear can completely keep out the worse that the enemy can throw at us. Certainly gave us old sweats comfort in Kuwait when we were infrormed that Saddam was aiming anthrax warheads at us.
     
  9. AL_DA_GREAT

    AL_DA_GREAT amour absinthe révolution

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    I was lucky enough not to have to do a lot of that. Our test was simple. They told us to put on the suite and get in a room. Then they filled it with super strong teargas and made us exercise in the room. Those who completed it where passed, those who ran out/ lay on the ground where given a second chance. They truly looked terrified when they where told to do it again.

    My friends father was ordered to put mustard gas on their arm and treat it. It was probably very diluted.
     
  10. kochman

    kochman Deity

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    *Avoid the (short) ambush!!! You can avoid this by never taking the same route twice, posting guards in the front, flanks and rear of your unit, travel in smaller units, spread out in a wedge formation, etc, etc, etc.
    Avoid ranged combat with armor units!! If you must fight them, get the reverse slope advantage and ambush them. They can shoot (effectively) way further... take that advantage away.

    *I wasn't in the cold war, but we had our NBC gear in Iraq... On us. Not in Afghanistan.
     
  11. cav scout

    cav scout The Continuum

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    Going up against armor :smug:
     
  12. Flying Pig

    Flying Pig Utrinque Paratus Moderator

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    True enough, but in Afghanistan the paras have on more than one occasion broken out of an ambush simply by fixing bayonets and showing the enemy huge amounts of aggression. Generally they're expecting you just to obligingly curl up and die, and wrestling the initiative back off them is often enough of a shock for men of hte quality of airborne troops to carry the day.
     
  13. kochman

    kochman Deity

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    I know! That was a big part of our training for the rangers, reacting to short/far ambushes... Still, not fun. If the enemy has laid it in properly, with decent enough firepower!
     
  14. squall78

    squall78 Prince

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    What are your opinions on the best way to handle guerrilla/terrorist warfare? It seems like the group without a country makes things very sticky. I was watching a show on Vietnam and it said that this was the first war where progress was based on lives lost (on the NVA side) instead of real estate.

    Bin Laden in Pakistan does make things very sticky as well, when we aren't at war with the country. Kinda like the whole Cambodia thing with Vietnam as well.
     
  15. Eat_Up_Martha

    Eat_Up_Martha Prince

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    How common would you say it is that soldiers come from a military family? Do you think it's more prevalent in combat positions or support?
     
  16. Flying Pig

    Flying Pig Utrinque Paratus Moderator

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    Ordinary soldiers not really - barring for obvious reasons my own generation, where almost everyone joining up had a father who had served - but a huge number of officers until recently came from established military families with connections to a particular regiment; it used to be the cases that boys would have their names held in a list by the family regiment, which was nearly always infantry or cavalry, and be invited for an interview in their final year of school. The vast majority of people nowadays are not from military families, and consequently 'pad brats' as we call them are the exception rather than the rule, although I don't doubt that many of the younger sons of aristocrats are still commissioning - nearly all into the Guards.
     
  17. GinandTonic

    GinandTonic Saphire w/ Schweps + Lime

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    I Was under the impression "charge the ambushers" was the default training for all units. If the overwelming objective is to get out of the ambushers kill zone - since forward is by definition blocked and unless the ambusher is a complete muppet backwards too just running at the buggers, however unappealing the prospect, is the least bad option. And sooner the better?
     
  18. kochman

    kochman Deity

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    Fight fire with fire... special ops, small units, highly trained and well funded, plus superior air support is a plus...
    Therein lies the problem, you have to store that air force somewhere, and it's too risky to leave that area scantly guarded... so in come the conventional forces...

    But it doesn't have to be that way. Look how we kicked arse in the beginning of Afghanistan? (Incidentally, the Russians did well in the beginning too, with their special ops...).
     
  19. Cutlass

    Cutlass The Man Who Wasn't There.

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    What do common soldiers think of Prince William and other men who get positions of rank based on their position of birth?
     
  20. Flying Pig

    Flying Pig Utrinque Paratus Moderator

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    'Technically' the drill is to lay down fire while simultaneously running like hell the way you came, and to hope that they haven't got a very big cut-off group watching to make sure you're not doing just that - generally, they'll have well over three times your numbers, so attacking them is normally suicide, it's just that we don't exactly fight the world's finest right now and so can get away with things that would be impossible if the enemy tried them on us.

    First of all they don't, in the military - Prince William has been through officer selection and Sandhurst, and the same for the RAF, so he's a bona fide officer and by most accounts a pretty good one, given that he's gone blue. As for people like Prince Philip who are given very high ranks to add on to their 'proper' ranks (he was a Captain, I think, in the Navy and is now an Admiral of the Fleet, equivalent to General of the Army in the USA), they don't actually have any responsibility for running the military and so apart from saluting them nothing happens any different, so frankly we don't care.
     

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