And so they’re back! I admit I don’t remember much about the “airport” (landing strip) at Fort McCoy. I remember stepping off the plane, dazed and disoriented, freezing cold as icy winds blasted us. We stepped down a set of stairs, turned our weapons in at a rack at the bottom, and never saw them again. That last part is a bit important, since I thought for certain we were going to have to clean them, and so I had left a bolt-on rail for a red-dot scope on mine. I figured I’d remove it when we cleaned weapons, but it was gone. It wasn’t expensive so I didn’t break a sweat over it, especially since I was home. That tended to override pretty much everything– the wind, the weariness, the scope mount. It was all irrelevant in comparison.
Anyhow, the Sergeant-Major is overjoyed at the prospect of tormenting soldiers about minor, quibbling nonsense again. I recently read a book called “The Comic Art of War” by Christina M. Knopf. It is an academic study of comics done specifically by cartoonists who are or were in the military. A lot of attention is paid to folks like Bill Mauldin, for example, as well as currently-running comics like “Terminal Lance”. BOHICA Blues is mentioned a few times in the book as well, although it is about the original Iraq comics, not this webcomic.
But the reason I bring it up is because many times, military humor focuses mostly on the hardships of war as a result of things like terrain, weather… and the stupidity or self-serving actions of commanders, particularly officers. While I do poke at officers here a lot in BOHICA Blues, I am also pretty hard on Sergeant-Majors. I’ve mentioned many times before that there are a slew of rules and nit-picks that Sergeant-Majors love to pile onto soldiers. I suspect a lot of it is primarily to feel important or to give themselves something to do, or to put their imprint on something.
But the Sergeant-Major is supposed to be the enlisted soldier’s advocate to the command staff. When the officers come up with harebrained schemes, the Sergeant-Major is supposed to intervene, and look out for the troops and protect them from foolishness or crazy expectations. By identifying with officer peers, and being one more instrument of pointless difficulty, the Sergeant-Major has, in a sense, betrayed the people he or she is supposed to protect. Not all Sergeant-Majors are like this (I’ve served with some really cool ones who “understand”) but the phenomenon is far too common.
Officers are expected to be clueless. The Sergeant-Major has no excuse.