I am following the latest milblog kerfuffle-du-jour with mild and expectant interest, and with absolute confidence that Mr. Foer of the New Republic was sold a bill of tainted goods as regards the charming reminiscences of one “Scott Thomas” and his service in Iraq. There is such a whiff of improbability about elements in the “Shock Troops” story, as if they were all proceeded by the statement, “No s**t, this really happened to this dude that this other guy told me about”!

But… severely burned and maimed woman survivor of an IED explosion being driven out of the dining facility by crude mockery? (And no one remembers this woman, or the incident, or stepped in to stop it?) Never mind about what she was still doing at a forward base… or who she was. Nine out of ten, any woman tough enough to hang with the military long-time, as a service member or contractor is tough enough to not only kick ass but to serve said ass up on a silver salver with a tasteful sliver of carved tomato and a spring of parsley.

A soldier wearing a decaying child’s skull on top of his head… presumably under his cover or Kevlar for a considerable period? Taken from a mass grave that no one else ever heard about? And no one else notices… let alone comments on the smell? I’ve been out in the hills and encountered dead animals enough to know that decomposing flesh has a particularly memorable and piercing reek. No mention is made in “Scott Thomas” story of other soldiers barfing up their socks at encountering it full-strength and at length..

And a Bradley driver making a sport of running down dogs. Wary, fast-running street dogs. With a very noisy, slow-moving tracked vehicle, which affords limited driver vision and not much maneuverability. In an environment were anything off the side of the road might be a hidden IED. Yep, sure… pull the other leg, sport, that one has bells on it.

Mind you, I am not insisting that soldiers are incapable of being crude, cruel or immune to the allure of gallows humor. I have quite good recall, as does my daughter, of many incidents in our own service, that if repeated, bald and unadorned would not reflect particularly well on anyone involved. But such stories would be congruent in details and with technical authenticity, and in a psychologically realistic fashion… and we both would be able to supply names, approximate dates, locations, units… all that stuff. Nothing happens in a vacuum in the military, as I have noted before. There are always other eyes. Perhaps the editors of NR are still unconscious of this… and a little too apt to throw themselves on a narrative which confirms their basic beliefs about the military and/or the war in Iraq. It’s not like this hasn’t happened before, (Jesse McBeth, anyone?) and no less a journalistic luminary like Sy Hersh has been cleaning up on the lecture circuit for years on material as revolting as it is thoroughly sanitized of confirmable detail. Winter Soldier, Redoux, indeed.

So… just another fabulist encountering a credulous reporter or publisher? Perhaps. Or, maybe a soldier playing the old game of “gross out the civilian”, or even “Let’s see how much incredible s**t we can get this poor sap to believe” for his own amusement… which would be my guess. There is a sucker born every minute, as the saying goes. Unfortunately too damn many of them are now working for the legacy media.

Once more into the breech, my milblogger friends; putting this kind of story under a microscope is a necessary, if unpleasant chore. Sort of like taking out the garbage to the curb. Has to be done, regularly, otherwise the house becomes unbearable. Allowing narratives like this to go unchallenged is to let our friends, our children, or our comrades to be depicted falsely in the legacy media hive-mind… as falsely as Vietnam veterans were painted for years as drug-abusing, baby-murdering, unstable misfits and freaks.

And if you give a miss to this one, don’t worry. I am sure that there’ll be another one, bubbling up to the top of the media hive-mind; just as thinly sourced, just as revolting, and just as debunkable.

Another thread here, with nice graphic!

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