Wednesday, May 29, 2019

The American Army in the 21st Century

On the back of an M1 Abrams tank there is a little telephone in a box tapped into the crew’s intercom; it’s called a grunt phone. I’ve never been as scared as I was the times I had to run to that grunt phone, bullet impacts dancing on the tank’s armor, their ricochets flashing like fistfuls of thrown pennies. I needed to get on the grunt phone to tell the tanks where to shoot. The tank crew would listen to music on their intercom, so if no one was talking you’d hear pop songs when you held the handset to your ear. The tankers I worked with liked Britney Spears. The squat crew chief, who looked like he was born to fit inside of a tank, told me that he played the music because it helped everyone in the tank stay “frosty.”

–Lieutenant Elliot Ackerman on the Battle of Falluja, 2004.

This is actually a gripping little account of the fighting in Falluja, but it was the tankers listening to Britney Spears that weirded me out the most.

1 comment:

G. Verloren said...

Soldiers are notorious for listening to weird pop music choices in the field, and they've even gotten in pretty big trouble for it.

For example, during the Gulf War, jet pilots were making radio requests to listen to Rock The Casbah during their bombing runs, which caught them some pretty severe backlash once the fact was made public. It turns out it's in really bad taste to play a staunchly anti-war song by one of the most influential punk bands of the era while vaporizing people with guided missiles, and The Clash quite naturally complained and got the military to ban the song from their radio playlists.

A lot of soldiers tend to be borderline psychotic. If you go looking, you can find story after story of bored grunts pulling "pranks" that destroy property and endanger innocent lives, laughing as they do things like empty 10,000 rounds of leftover helicopter minigun ammo into a random chicken coop from half a mile away.