|San Diego Soliloquies|
Sunday, August 07, 2005
Names and HometownsSince we last spoke:
all died in Iraq. These are the ones I could get names for.
When you look at this list, some things stand out. A lot of sergeants. Senior guys too. The Army and Marines run because of sergeants and senior NCO's. When you see a sergeant in their 30's, that's someone who has spent at least 10 years in direct management of a team, making sure they're trained fed, equipped, rested and ready. First and second level management in a business. The Army likes to have a lot of sergeants, and encourages this by allowing privates to take non-commisioned officer courses that let them skip the rank of corporal.
Then you see some guys in their late 20's who are staff seargeants. These are real comers, marked for great things. A 27 year old staff sergeant has the right stuff, and is overseeing other sergeants, probably reporting to the company commander, or assigned to the top platoon in the company. This is the guy who makes sure the troops and marines are ready to go to war, and is usually signing off on the plans to do it.
You can also see when the Marines have had really bad days. As mentioned before, the Army encourages privatges to go directly to sergeant, whereas the Marines use the ranks more strictly. Also only the Marines have the rank of Lance Corporal, which is the lowest non-commisioned officer rank, between Private First Class and Corporal. Corporals perform a vital function of leading small teams in battle. A Lance Corporal may have some other responsibility such as heavy weapons or communications. When you see a lot of dead Corporals and definitely Lances, it means the marines took heavy causualties.
In this context, if you see a woman or a navy rank, especially if they're young, it usually means that a medic died trying to save someone's life (Army trooper if it's a woman, Marine if it's Navy). That also usually means that Iraqi insurgents had sufficient intelligence and tacitcal coordination to conceal secondary IEDs that caught the medics.
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