Monday, January 13, 2014

I actually feel sorry for Tapper here

In the universe of journalists, Jake Tapper is one of the good ones. He is an exceptional professional, fair, and open minded. He has also done more than most to try to get the story out about those who have served.

Especially for someone who has not worn the uniform, he mostly gets it right. This time with Marcus Luttrell, he missed. While Tapper was perhaps making comments about the AFG war in general - this interview was about a very specific operation - and that is what Marcus was focused on. 

From a journalistic point of view, I think Tapper has turned the knob a bit to 11 looking for the "bad planner" and "incompetent leadership" or worse, cover-up to protect those responsible. Somethings, things just go to sh1t.

Maybe he is right, but there is something else. Now and then, things do not go right. When you plan, you have certain planning assumptions, restraints, constraints; you do your troops-to-task analysis and hope for the best. Sometimes you get one or all of your planning assumptions wrong - you can't see in the future. Sometimes the convoy to the enemy leadership meeting gets confused with the convoy going to a wedding party. Sometimes when trying to aviate, navigate, and communicate you confuse the target position with the blue positions. Sometimes you say 030 when you clearly have 050 in front of you. Sometimes, you just live in an imperfect world. That is, perhaps, where he is getting the professional issue wrong.

Tapper is also getting a personal issue wrong, I think. It is a common mistake a lot of people with good intentions people make. As most have not served, they only know what being in the military at war is like from a theoretical point of view. What they read, see on the TV, the impressions of others whose personal specifics become the listeners general assumption. 

As a result, they know what it means to serve and to go to war like the rest of us know what it is to travel in to space. Tapper is good - but no one is perfect - so in this case I will cut him some slack.

It is easy for some to fall in to old habits and comfortable archetype; the victim, the compassionate observer, the concerned supporter. The last two lean on the first; the victim. In trying to find common ground, they reach for the easiest reference point. Some who have worn the uniform, in my experience those who have other issues, will try to play the victim card for attention. 

Those who seek someone to help will gravitate to those who want to feel helped. The shame of it all is that in most cases, those who have served who may actually need "help" don't want it. They won't ask for it, and if you imply that you think they need help - they will not appreciate the effort. They don't want your sympathy, they don't want your thanks, and they don't want to be patronized. Some do, but they are like the crickets in the cow-field; small and insignificant - but exceptionally loud.

When confronted with the well meaning but wrong, when able most on the receiving end will be polite, say something harmless, and then try to change the subject. Others can quickly tire of the unwanted embrace, the assumptions of the broken vessel, the mythology of Hollywood and the attention seeker becoming fact. From having to deal with the clueless repeating the latest they read about PTSD, to well meaning people who assume a lot what they think those who served want to hear.

Eventually, you get enough. That is what you saw above. Shipmate has had enough. BZ Marcus. BZ.

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