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Last orders for troops arriving for daily duty with hangovers

COBRA-6

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http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/Afghanistan/article6825321.ece

After a Nato airstrike killed as many as 125 people last week, General Stanley McChrystal was keen to get the situation under control — fast.

When he tried to contact his underlings to find out what had happened, however, he found, to his fury, that many of them were either drunk or too hungover to respond.

Complaining in his daily Commander’s Update that too many people had been “partying it up”, General McChrystal, head of International Forces in Afghanistan (Isaf), banned alcohol at his headquarters yesterday, admonishing staff for not having “their heads in the right place” on Friday morning — a few hours after the deadly attack.

What was an oasis of coffee shops and bars where commanders could enjoy a beer or three will now be a dry area.

German soldiers in northern Afghanistan have been criticised for calling in an American F15 Strike Eagle to drop two 500lb bombs on a pair of hijacked fuel tankers in Kunduz at about 2.30am on Friday. Scores of local people who had gathered to siphon fuel from the lorries were killed in the explosions.

Nato began an investigation later that morning but military sources said that General McChrystal was furious because he “couldn’t get hold of the people he needed to get hold of and he blamed it on all-night partying”.

Rear-Admiral Gregory Smith, the top US spokesman in Afghanistan, accused German troops of waiting too long after the blasts to investigate the scene. When General McChrystal flew north, the local German commander, Colonel Georg Klein, told him that it was too dangerous to visit the blast site, four miles outside their camp, because they might get shot at.

President Karzai called the airstrikes unacceptable, and the fallout has heightened tensions inside Nato. Bernard Kouchner, the French Foreign Minister, described the bombing as a big mistake and the European Union foreign policy chief, Javier Solana, called it a “very sad event”.

Germany insisted yesterday that the tankers posed an acute threat to their troops because they could have been used for suicide bomb missions. Josef Jung, the Defence Minister, told parliament that there were no civilian casualties, and his deputy, Christian Schmidt, demanded that “foreign ministers from other countries should wait for the investigations”.

The German military is set to face tough questions, however, after a preliminary investigation found that the bombs were dropped in breach of Nato guidelines.

The decision was based mainly on information from a single intelligence source, who claimed that everyone at the scene was part of the Taleban.

Afghan human rights investigators said that as many as 70 civilians were among the dead and only a dozen insurgents were killed.

The row mirrors tensions inside the Nato-led international force over the two-tier nature of the coalition, where a handful of the member nations do the lion’s share of the fighting.

American soldiers, who have one of the strictest work ethics, joke that Isaf stands for “I Saw Americans Fighting”.

US troops are banned from drinking and British troops are allowed to drink only at official functions with special permission. Soldiers from the rest of the 42-nation alliance are governed by divergent national guidelines on alcohol consumption.

The Isaf headquarters is only half a mile square but it has at least seven bars that serve tax-free beer and wine — including a Tora Bora sports bar complete with flat-screen televisions and football memorabilia, the Gravel Pit, which has a snooker table, a German beer hall, the 37 Club and a Nordic Palace.

One insider said: “Thursday nights are the big party nights, because Friday’s a ‘low-ops’ day. They even open a bar in the garden at headquarters. There’s a ‘two can’ rule but people ignore it and hit it pretty hard.”

A group of Macedonian guards were sent home this year because they were discovered drunk on duty, while protecting the back gate.

The problem became so acute that military police started breathalysing drivers and pedestrians around the base.

“General McChrystal is extremely focused on the mission and he feels that the folk who are here at the headquarters level need to be at the top of their game in terms of supporting the folks out in the field,” an Isaf spokesman said. “The Kunduz incident provided an opportunity for him to articulate his concerns in this regard, but it was not the cause of the order nor is there any indication at this point that alcohol consumption was somehow a factor in the incident.”

He added that the decision was driven partly by respect for Muslim culture.

Civilian staff have been advised to make arrangements to stay off camp if they have more than two beers in an evening, but soldiers stationed elsewhere will still be free to drink.

The military airport KAIA was dubbed Kaia-napa, after the Cyprus resort, because there are so many bars; the main French garrison in Kabul has at least five bars with ales on tap. The Spanish and Italian troops stationed in the west are known within Nato for drinking wine at lunchtime.

At the main German base in Mazar-e-Sharif, in northern Afghanistan, there is a purpose-built nightclub known as the Beach Club Bar where hundreds of camp-bound troops party every Thursday. In a leaked report, German officers branded their troops there “useless cake-eaters,” before a parliamentary report revealed that 3,500 troops had consumed about 1.7 million pints of beer and 90,000 bottles of wine in a year.

In December their reputation suffered another blow when they were branded too fat to fight: a report claimed that 40 per cent of the troops aged 18-29 were overweight, compared with 35 per cent of the civilian population.

Talk of the new ban dominated conversations at Ciano’s pizzeria at the headquarters yesterday. The restaurant used to serve thousands of bottles of Peroni beer every month. The soldiers with calzones were resigned to sipping coffee instead.

Many of the civilian staff, who are free to leave the base, were not concerned. “It’s only on HQ that they’ve banned it. All the other bases that served it, still do,” one said.

This is nothing new to anyone who has served in Kabul...

 

OldSolduer

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WTF?? You know this kind of crap makes me angry. We have troops out in the wilds, and are strictly forbidden access to alcohol, yet HQ Weenies can imbibe with impunity. Typical...and then the upper echelon wonders why they are disliked and disrespected.

While the troops are out risking their lives, you are partying it up???? Give me a freakin break.
 

daftandbarmy

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They should also give the HQ wallahs patrol traces to complete in the local area, but hey, that's just me.
 

CountDC

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daftandbarmy said:
They should also give the HQ wallahs patrol traces to complete in the local area, but hey, that's just me.

Great idea but who do you think will actually be doing them?
 

Larkvall

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Why are Fridays considered ‘low-ops’ day?

Isn't this far too predictable?
 

Dissident

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Maybe because it is the Afghan week end and the insurgents tend to do less on that day? (speculation)
 

vonGarvin

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daftandbarmy said:
They should also give the HQ wallahs patrol traces to complete in the local area, but hey, that's just me.
Sure, no worries.  So long as the front line martyrs are given OPP cycles to complete and work at it for 15 hour days, end on end.


[/drama queen mode]
I realise that perception is everything.  The perception that the HQ staff are dilly-dallying about as the PBI slog it out day in and day out probably goes back to the Roman times, if not earlier.  (I can see Og the cave man standing shift at the waterhole, just down the way from the Monolith, as Urgh and Blagh are back in the cave, feasting on monkey brains).

It comes down to rules-enforcement.  If there is a limit, then enforce it.  If there is scope to take one day a week off, then do so.  Working 200 days straight without a break is more than likely unhealthy.  Now, I wouldn't give the whole kit and kaboodle the same day off, naturally, I would take say 1/7th of the staff and given them x day off, another 1/7th the next, and so forth.  If possible, naturally.
 

basrah

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OldSoldier said:
WTF?? You know this kind of crap makes me angry. We have troops out in the wilds, and are strictly forbidden access to alcohol, yet HQ Weenies can imbibe with impunity. Typical...and then the upper echelon wonders why they are disliked and disrespected.

While the troops are out risking their lives, you are partying it up???? Give me a freakin break.

On my tour, and Im sure it is still happening, those soldiers posted on KAF are allowed to drink once a month. It may only be two beers, but that is two more a month than those out at the PSS get.

I still remember coming in to KAF on Canada day, just in time for the two beer hand out. There were 'soldiers' walking around wearing giant novelty cat in the hat style hats with decorations all over them, wearing Canada hockey jersys, and playing their guitars. The fact that the even had room in their UAB to pack this made me shake my head, let alone the fact that they planned ahead for this event. I remember having to ditch certain things from my UAB because it wasnt 100% essential, and it sure as hell wasnt a giant fluffy hat.
 

Jarnhamar

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Larkvall said:
Why are Fridays considered ‘low-ops’ day?

Isn't this far too predictable?

Probably about as predictable as having a ramp ceremoney at 1600hrs the very next day after a death.  ::)
 

dapaterson

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basrah said:
I remember having to ditch certain things from my UAB because it wasnt 100% essential, and it sure as hell wasnt a giant fluffy hat.

Well, of course not.  No one would ditch the giant fluffy hat.
 
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aesop081

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basrah said:
On my tour, and Im sure it is still happening, those soldiers posted on KAF are allowed to drink once a month. It may only be two beers, but that is two more a month than those out at the PSS get.

I still remember coming in to KAF on Canada day, just in time for the two beer hand out. There were 'soldiers' walking around wearing giant novelty cat in the hat style hats with decorations all over them, wearing Canada hockey jersys, and playing their guitars. The fact that the even had room in their UAB to pack this made me shake my head, let alone the fact that they planned ahead for this event. I remember having to ditch certain things from my UAB because it wasnt 100% essential, and it sure as hell wasnt a giant fluffy hat.

You can always remuster if life is that much better on the other side of the fence. Not to start yet another "Us vs Them" argument but they picked their trade and so did you.
 

Gunner98

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TF Comds may authorize monthly beer calls at KAF, however, during my tour Canadians in RC(S) HQ were only allowed two beer on Canada Day and were dry the remainder of the time.

As for fluffy hats - maybe the wearers actually received them in the 'free mail' through Canada Post, ergo they actually had friends supporting them from back home,

or they left their winter whites and mukluks at home and packed something into their new pelican boxes they might actually wear while living inside the wire.
 

PMedMoe

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basrah said:
There were 'soldiers' walking around wearing giant novelty cat in the hat style hats with decorations all over them, wearing Canada hockey jersys, and playing their guitars. The fact that the even had room in their UAB to pack this made me shake my head, let alone the fact that they planned ahead for this event. I remember having to ditch certain things from my UAB because it wasnt 100% essential, and it sure as hell wasnt a giant fluffy hat.

Maybe they bought it in KAF or Mirage.  Maybe it was sent to them.

I agree with CDN Aviator, we don't need another "Us vs. Them" thread.
 

SARgirl

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Is this not a case of the minority making the whole look bad or is it the other way around by where the majority takes part and makes the minority look bad along with them???  Does anyone know which is the case?  Maybe it doesn't matter... majority or minority, it's still happening and should be rectified.

I agree, the rules do need to be enforced.  It undermines the authority and respect of those in charge when they don't ensure the rules are followed... of course, this starts with the enforcers having the self discipline and self control to set the example.

Even though Canadian troops were not mentioned in this story (thank goodness), stories like this certainly don't help the world image of troops as a whole.

I wonder, in this story, were Canadian troops lucky enough to simply be not mentioned in the list or do our Canadian troops, generally speaking, tend to set and follow a higher standard and so perhaps that is why they were not mentioned?

I'm not sure how this will go over, but here it goes...  I do believe that using the excuse that one is away on tour to drink or one is a solider is exactly that, an excuse.  I know several responsible soldiers who choose to not become intoxicated and most of those I know don't drink at all except perhaps when they are away on personal leave (holidays or X days off) and even then, just one or two over the period of time at hand. 

I'm unclear why so many soldiers choose to drink, we all have our crosses to bare, every one of us, but I was thinking that there might be some misconception about how many soldiers drink to excess because of how the information is presented by the media.  Does anyone know if the % of soldiers who choose to drink is more or less than that of the civvie population? 

Perhaps I'm over analyzing, but... do soldiers who drink to excess not think about how they devalue themselves, their country and military, their families and how it even increases the risks to their life and lives of those around them when they drink (given what they do for a living)?  Drinking is a conscience decision, I just wonder what goes through their head leading up to such things.  Soldiers are well trained and generally tend to be quite intelligent; it shouldn't be a stretch of logic for a solider, who I assume wants to return home alive and well, would choose to disregard such logic (espeically with regards to increased risks to their life and lives of those around them when drinking to excess)... it just doesn't make sense.  Mind you, the same thing could be said about anyone who chooses to drink too much; be it a solider or civvie, but then soldiers are held to a higher standard than that of a civvie and soldiers also have to be mentally equipped to face, without notice, those dangers which a civvie would, usually speaking, not be tending to.

Simian Turner said:
As for fluffy hats - maybe the wearers actually received them in the 'free mail' through Canada Post, ergo they actually had friends supporting them from back home, 
I was thinking the same thing; that they very likely had some fun items sent to them, to use during down times, from those back home. 

PMedMoe said:
I agree with CDN Aviator, we don't need another "Us vs. Them" thread.
+1


 

OldSolduer

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PMedMoe said:
Maybe they bought it in KAF or Mirage.  Maybe it was sent to them.

I agree with CDN Aviator, we don't need another "Us vs. Them" thread.
I quite agree, BUT...

In 93 in Croatia, the CCSG lived in a far better camp, with a three tier deck for the JRC, that was built with materiels that were supposed to be issued to the line troops.
In 97 in Bosnia, every NSE pers in VK had fleece  early in the tour, whereas 2VP  waited until late in the tour for theirs. Same with desert boots. And the VK pers had A/C in each ISO trailer. Not so down at Coralici, Bihac or Zgon.

Where are the priorities? Do you blame the Battle Group guys for being a bit PO'd?

As for walking around with fluffy hats, as long as they were in civvies, who cares.
 
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aesop081

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In 93 in Croatia.......

Yup and the CANLOGBAT folks in Split also had a walking out policy....yadi yadi yada. For every story where the field guys have some sort of legitimate gripe ( i was in croatia in 94) there is some combat arms guy who bitches that he has to sleep in a trench and the AF guys in the next country is in a hotel, etc.....

You are in a dusty hole in the ground with only what you can carry in your ruck and people shoot at you.......WTF are people expecting ? last time i checked, every infantryman was a volunteer.......

I've been around long enough that there is non-sense and abuses going on and those things should be adressed. Saying "well they had fuzzy hats and more space for stuff", shake your head a bit, i doubt you wouldnt do the same if you were them.

CFAO 11-12..........

 

Jammer

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...and on Roto 0 in Kabul EVERYONE in the TF was able to get on the piss in the evenings...no limits. The same with every frickin' UN tour. So before anyone gets on the pulpit and preaches, take a look inside yourselves.
 

Kat Stevens

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I was never so happy in my life to get home from a tour as I was for HARMONY 0.  My liver would have self destructed or mutinied if it was any longer.  Our bar in Vukovar was famed throughout the land for our parties.
 

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Well bottom line is that anyone in the CF, not only in those in Afghanistan need to be responsible. To the people who had the privilege of drinking, you would think they would know better than to abuse it. Knowing that, taking away that privilege is in my opinion maybe a little extreme seeing as how it is an excellent way to calm oneself down, at the end of the day. Keeping in mind though that with or without the privilege, in the end you wouldn't go overseas just to party, so it shouldn't matter too much.

As for the big fuzzy hats, that just sounds like a fun thing that could simply be for morale, so whats the harm in that? As long as its understood that anyone with one should be prepared to haul it around...still not a big deal IMO. 
 

OldSolduer

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CDN Aviator said:
Yup and the CANLOGBAT folks in Split also had a walking out policy....yadi yadi yada. For every story where the field guys have some sort of legitimate gripe ( i was in croatia in 94) there is some combat arms guy who bitches that he has to sleep in a trench and the AF guys in the next country is in a hotel, etc.....

You are in a dusty hole in the ground with only what you can carry in your ruck and people shoot at you.......WTF are people expecting ? last time i checked, every infantryman was a volunteer.......

I've been around long enough that there is non-sense and abuses going on and those things should be adressed. Saying "well they had fuzzy hats and more space for stuff", shake your head a bit, i doubt you wouldnt do the same if you were them.

CFAO 11-12..........

Look, I agreed we didnt' need an Us Vs Them forum. I am merely pointing out the disrepancy between the supportiing element and the supported. And FYI, we don't all live in holes in the ground.
 
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