Peacekeeping: Badass Americans Dress Down

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May 22,2008: Commanders who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan are questioning the uniforms policy currently in force. Put simply, if there is any risk of combat in an area, troops are not to leave base unless in full "battle rattle". That means body armor, helmet, weapon and ready to rock. This is meant to protect the troops in case there's trouble, as well as to intimidate any hostile locals. But it also intimidates friendly locals. For that reason, Special Forces troops often dress in civilian clothes, usually the same stuff the locals are wearing. This has frequently irked senior U.S. officers, who sometimes make enough noise to get the Special Forces operators back into uniform (but that's another debate.)

Thanks to the Internet, the word has gotten around that, no matter how U.S. troops are dressed, they are very badass. Even pro-terrorist propagandists no longer try to peddle the "cowardly American soldier" line. It just doesn't play, because too many Iraqis and Afghans have gotten online and described personal experiences fighting alongside, or even against, U.S. troops, or just witnessing it. The general message is, you do not want to mess with the Americans in full battle-rattle.

Because of this enhanced reputation, more commanders now agree with the Special Forces, that it would be preferable to dress down, and work on exploiting the friendly relations with the locals you depend on for information, and other assistance. But, at the same time, commanders are still under tremendous pressure to keep U.S. casualties down. That will probably keep lots of people dressed for combat, no matter how friendly the natives are.

 


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