Tuesday, January 17, 2006

In the Sandbox...

Infantryman — Not Just A Label

"I am extremely disappointed that a commissioned officer could call the title of infantryman “just a label” (“Don’t get hung up on label,” letter, Jan. 8).

Infantryman is a title given to those who have chosen to close with and destroy the enemy. This is a title that we take very seriously and have a great deal of pride in. We spend many months and years training to earn the right to call ourselves infantry.

I don’t knock other people for their military occupational specialties because every soldier’s job is important. I also understand that we have picked our jobs. Just because my job involves a higher risk of injury or death, long hours on missions, or cold nights with minimal accommodations doesn’t make it more important, just different.

These wars are being fought differently. There is no defined army that we are fighting — no uniforms, no common issue vehicles or equipment. The front lines are not clearly defined. For some, regardless of MOS, the danger begins as soon as they leave the wire. For others, the danger is always there. But just because you fire your weapon at an enemy or go out with infantrymen, that does not make you one of them. Since my time in Afghanistan, I have worked with Special Forces on numerous occasions. Does that make me Special Forces? No. Can I call myself Special Forces and wear a green beret? No.

I have ridden around in Black Hawk and Chinook helicopters. Can I say I’m a crew chief? No. I’ve also worked with majors. Maybe I should start calling myself major. After all, according to the letter writer, it’s “just a label.”

Being called an infantryman is not a label. It is our branch. It is our chosen profession. And it is our Army way of life. Anyone who wants to claim that title needs to live that life."

-Staff Sgt. Robert Pappano, Qalat, Afghanistan (source)

...girls of the US Army...
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