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Combat and Other Shenanigans: Tales of the Absurd from a Deployment to Iraq Paperback – February 25, 2014
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About the Author
Piers Platt grew up in Boston, but spent most of his childhood in various boarding schools, including getting trained as a classical singer at a choir school for boys. He joined the Army in 2002, and spent four years on active duty, including a year-long deployment to Iraq in 2004 as a tank and scout platoon leader. He now works as a marketing strategy consultant in New York city, when he's not spending time with his lovely wife and daughter.
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He doesn't hesitate to point out that many of the IEDs and other weapons used against the US military in Iraq "featured artillery rounds made in the USA" (42). His description of burn s@#$%^&* is wonderful, as is the list of nicknames and insults (55) and random pranks.
Quotes I adored:
"When you look like you know what you're doing in the Army, you ca get away with a lot." (52)
"I've been on planes in bad turbulence and storms before, but this was on a completely different level." (138)
"I had read about shell-shock among soldiers under artillery bombardment in the First and Second World Wars, but until you experience a blast of that magnitude up close, you can't really comprehend what it feels like." (162)
The second paragraph of the epilogue on page 168 is fantastic.
He is able to portray the life of a serviceman during a deployment, the boredom, poor rations, the sand, the squalor. silly army regulations, questionable leadership. The army at its best is basically dysfunctional, ask anyone who has served.They manage to get by, there are problems with equipment,men who should never have been enlisted because of their low standards. But what makes the book interesting are those few, the exception to the rule, the men who excel at what they do. They were born to be soldiers and they must carry the weight, have the answers, be able to keep the riff raft in line and hold them to the mission and keep what ever discipline they can muster. This is not to be confused with WWII or Korea, this is America flexing its muscle which really comes down to our advance technology. Oh how important good leadership is and there we seem to be lacking. The author illustrates some close calls, but calls into question, WTF were we doing their?
As I was finishing the book, national news was reporting that almost the entire city of Samarra was now in the hands of the Taliban. This city figured prominently in this book. What a shame that this entire battle, if not the war, appears to have been fought for nothing!