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October 9, 2015

Generation Kill: Combat Jack

by Jonathan Toomey, posted Aug 4th 2008 9:02AM

Generation Kill(Part 4 of 7) "Well sir, it's just that you're incompetent, sir." - Doc Bryan

I've asked before, and I'll ask again: why aren't more of the good guys dying? When CIA-trained Iraqi friendlies get waxed by Saddam's Republican Guard because they don't have a clue? When leadership like Encino Man are floored to hear that they're stupid? When men like Captain America don't understand how using enemy weapons could cause harm? Why aren't more of the good guys dying?

It's because of the bottom on the totem pole players. The Colberts. The Persons. The Ficks. The Esperas. It's because of them that we're getting to see their story as a humorous account on HBO and not as some sappy, tears in your eyes Ken Burns PBS documentary.

Honestly, what did Encino Man expect to hear when he and Casey Kasem wandered around, asking for candid thoughts? Allowing his men to speak freely? The fact that he looked genuinely surprised and hurt when Doc Bryan called him incompetent only helps to bolster Doc's remarks. Smart men know what their colleagues think of them.

And then there was his ridiculous attempt to try and inspire confidence in his men, practically chiding them for forgetting that their enemy is ... the enemy. Oh right. Duh. While I agree with Godfather, that insubordination breeds insubordination, I think it's comical that the only reason they've taken an interest in that destroyed supply truck is because the unit colors were on it.

A flag was lost. Don't get me wrong, I understand the significance of it. The pride that comes with it. The history attached to it. Last I checked though, flags don't win wars. Food, guns, and ammo do and no one up top seems to care about that. So for Encino Man to say not to be angry at Godfather for leaving the truck; be angry at the Iraqis for burning it? Huh? Did they expect it to be there when they came back? It's like Person said last week - you don't leave an unlocked car in the streets of Baltimore. Smart men know how to inspire those around them.

More ramblings...

  • Explain this to me. How is it smart to split up Alpha and Bravo? They're almost 24 hours ahead of any other unit, buried deep in enemy territory, running on no sleep, insufficient supplies, with small rosters of men. That just doesn't make sense to me. It's all Godfather, doing whatever he wants in an attempt to please Mattis. Champagne taste on a beer budget -- you get drunk either way, but how much are you willing to spend?
  • The combat jack! Frankly, I'm surprised this hasn't been mentioned already. No sense in mincing words -- masturbation is a great way to relieve stress and these men are under a lot of stress.
  • Glad to see Trombley win back some respect by pinpointing that shooter.
  • Anyone else notice that Garza had some new headgear? Looks like he spray-painted a dirt-bike helmet dark green.
  • I could be wrong because I'm trying to recall from the book, but I think this is the first time in the series that Simon and Burns scaled back on Wright's descriptions. During the roadblock scene, when that little girl was shot, I'm pretty sure that, in the book, Reyes picked her up first and the top of her head slid off, revealing her brain. Maybe it was another scene, but I don't think it was. Either way, it made me wonder: was it a stylistic decision? A little girl dying was enough? Or was it protest on Reyes' part because he had already lived through that horror once?
  • I can't remember the last time I heard a song by Wheatus. "Teenage Dirtbag." Hilarious.
  • I'm honestly not surprised that no one seems to take the Navy chaplain seriously. Brad did make a good point though. He's one extra guy that needs to be fed and when it comes down to it, he ain't picking up a gun.

Next week's installment, "A Burning Dog," takes the squad still further north in their quest for ... well, I'm not sure what that really is. Win the war? Define "win."

Who's the most inept leader?
Encino Man135 (31.4%)
Captain America215 (50.0%)
Sixta12 (2.8%)
Mattis9 (2.1%)
Godfather59 (13.7%)

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Garza had to change to this bike helmet as he lost his "pot" in the race to the Qalat Sukhar airfield.

And, actually, it is not fiction. The facts are backed up in the book and the movie by the book One Bullet Away: The Making of a Marine Officer by. . . wait for it. . . . Capt. Nathaniel Fick. Sound familiar?

August 13 2008 at 12:16 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
LCPL Showershoe

The Dalo:

Actually, as a former Infantry Marine who took part in the landing at Mogadishu in 1992, and someone who has not yet read the book, I am finding this story quite entertaining, and very realistic to field life in the Marine Corps. Just like in the show, every field Marine I knew horsed around the same exact way when they could, spoke exactly the same, philosophized constantly in humorous ways, and thought all but one or two of their officers were incompetent rocks. They proved it to us time and time again. The higher up the officer watching the proceedings was, the more inane and absurd our orders would sound. Oh, and don't get me started on the constant changing of the Rules of Engagement (ROE). I saw that personally in Somalia. In any case, this grumbling from the lower ranks isn't a new thing, it's typical, it's been going on since the first army was ever mustered.

My wife is former Air-Force and we are both watching and enjoying "Generation Kill" every week. When we found out that the colors were missing, my eyes popped open and my jaw dropped, but my wife was like, "so what...". I don't think many people would "get it", and that's the point the show is making. As silly as it may sound, some Marines I met would fall on a grenade to save the unit colors if it came to it. Remember, this was written from the prospective of a civilian journalist, not a front line grunt.

August 07 2008 at 12:41 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I can't believe you don't understand the significance of the colors? If I remember correctly, a certain flag placed in a certain photograph was able to inspire the entire US population when Marines were on an island in the pacific.

August 06 2008 at 11:31 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
The Dalo

It's clear this show has an "agenda" behind it - and it's not a "pro-war" statement. I know men who fought in Iraq and the reflection of this unit is not remotely close to the people I know who in real life lived this program. My roommate went as a National Guard Member and while a nice guy, isn't going to find the cure for cancer. Sure, at first his life was turned upside down because he was being sent half way around the world but he found the experience interesting and actually went back with Haliburton - for the record he was a sergeant driving trucks.

I mean isn't anyone else tired of the fact in this show that the higher the rank, the more "incompetent" the officer. Listen, I'm not sure how any of you actually know Army or Marine Officers and they certainly aren't all like "Encino Man" or "Capt America". I can also tell you, most privates, corporals and sergeants aren't going to be confused with Nobel Prize winners either.

Hey, I really like the show for the entertainment value but it is fiction. Sometimes, I get tired of the continued ripping of the United States and some of it's actions. I know 4 guys over 30 who joined the army after 9/11 - all of them went into Special Forces. Our policy in the Middle East was instigated by the actions of terrorist during 9/11. Now you can argue that Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11 but I think you would be looking at the region with a narrow mind. Iraq being situated between Iran and Syria, automatically gave it value against terrorist.

I know this is babbling and many people don't agree but I don't care - have a nice day.

August 06 2008 at 9:47 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

all you fucking assholes...armchair generals at their finest.

August 05 2008 at 7:53 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Scott R

At the start of the episode someone was reading Noam Chomsky's "What Uncle Sam Really Wants". Go here for a taste, http://www.thirdworldtraveler.com/Chomsky/WhatUncleSamWants.html

Not exactly what you'd expect a US marine to be reading (or allowed to be read). Was that in the book?

And the chaplain once again proves you have to be Hispanic or black to be religious on a tv show.

August 05 2008 at 1:00 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I am not surprised at all that they decided to scale back on the girl incident. I was wondering how they would do it, since it's so gruesome and not easy to "replicate".

August 04 2008 at 10:47 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

...if you circle back, Garza had that new helmet in the last episode, too. Or, someone did, as I remember thinking that seemed a better style helmet for that position.

August 04 2008 at 7:33 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I actually understand the role of the Chaplain. As you said, stress needs to be relieved, this guy is a great way to do it if you're one of the "go for god" types. Brad acted hard as shit this ep, he seems to be slowly revving up as the war goes on.

August 04 2008 at 5:31 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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