- By Thomas E. RicksThomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military from 1991 to 2008 for the Wall Street Journal and then the Washington Post. He can be reached at email@example.com.
A reader e-mail yesterday about part of the 101st Airborne’s deployment to retake Mosul, which they first took 13 years ago, spurred me to think: Have we all just grown accustomed to the forever war? I think we have.
If so, what does that mean?
The reader who wrote to me, by the way, stated that he is a veteran of the Vietnam war. Which increasingly looks shorter, by comparison.
In a related development, the other day I came across a new piece of military slang: “two-pump chump” — a putdown of someone who has done one or two deployments and thinks he is in a position to speak about the war. I disagree with this putdown, because as a rule, demeaning others’ war experiences is the beginning of a pissing contest in which everyone loses. It isn’t like there is a rule that your experience is only valid if you have done four tours. But I am interested that there are enough vets with multiple deployments that the phrase resonates in certain rooms.
P.S. — I sent a draft this post to the guy who had used the phrase. He wrote back to clarify his comment: “Don’t take it as a pissing contest, take it as total contempt for people who pose as something they are not and then try to relate EVERYTHING to their limited experience.”
Photo credit: Ute Kraus, Physics education group Kraus, Universität Hildesheim, (background image of the Milky Way: Axel Mellinger)/Gallery of Space Time Travel/Wikimedia Commons