- 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Best Defense is in summer reruns. Here is an item that originally ran on February 9, 2016.
By Lt. Col. Allen Voss, U.S. Army
Best Defense guest respondent
In reading your recent article where someone (presumably one of my brothers in arms) used the expression “2-pump chump,” I have a significant problem with this. If you know as much about our profession as I think you do, you know that too many of us revel in our previous levels of misery. To some it’s hooah to be miserable, hence the common joke, “I love how much this sucks.” If my time has been more miserable than yours, then I am more hooah, which means, “I’m harder than you.” This, unfortunately comes out of many of my Combat Arms brethren.
What I think this individual misses is not the number of times you’ve been down range, but what you’ve done while you were there. Add to that the amount of professional military education and training you’ve received. I say this as I sit in Baghdad on another tour (my third). I agree, there are some that think their one or two trips sitting on a FOB qualifies them as an expert to speak about every aspect of the past 15 years of conflict. But I challenge the speaker that just because you’ve done three or more tours running convoy operations or training an infantry unit, that experience does not make an expert in the operational or strategic level of war that’s taken place since 9/11, or the political and social factors involved.
Whenever I hear someone pontificating about the past years in Iraq and Afghanistan, I immediately ask what their jobs were down range. That list usually clues me in to their level of expertise, and I have challenged some on occasion. We try to remind our Soldiers (speaking from the Army side) to “stay in your lane” whenever you talk about the war. If you ran convoy security, then you are well educated to speak on that subject. If that same person tries to tell me how the Americans should train the Afghans, or another topic at the operational level, I will challenge their opinion if they’ve not done it. Instead of utilizing the term “2-pump chump,” maybe this person should think of using the term “experientially irrelevant,” or to go back to an earlier time, “speaking out of school.”
Allen Voss is a Lieutenant Colonel in the U.S. Army with over 21 years of experience, served in combat as a Military Transition Team Chief in Iraq, a Security Force Assistance and Advisory Team Chief in Afghanistan, and is currently deployed in the CENTCOM area again. He served as the G-3 for a two-star command, is a former battalion commander, is an avid student of military history and political science, and plans on beginning his PhD in history upon return from this deployment.