By:  Marilyn Assenheim
The Marines at Camp Leatherneck, in Afghanistan, lost one hot meal a day on Saturday. Eager to pre-empt criticism, the Pentagon hastily informed the public that no soldier will lose any calories…they will be provided with yummy, nutritious MRE’s (“meals ready-to-eat”). Too late. Outrage is already growing.
MRE’s are pre-packaged, shelf- stable packets provided to soldiers when they are out in the field. Soldiers have carried MRE’s during every battlefield conflict. Where MRE’s have not been utilized is in a soldier’s home camp. There, soldiers are expected to have four meals a day; three hot meals and a sandwich bar. The meal that has been taken off the roster as of Saturday is the “midrats” better known as the midnight to noon service. This includes hot breakfast and sustenance for soldiers coming off duty. Midrats are, arguably, the most important meal in a soldier’s day.  It is the only time that Camp Leatherneck marines can be together during the 24/7 service they perform in Afghanistan. Oh yes. The Pentagon is removing 24 hour sandwich service, too.
Why is this happening? The reason being given is because of a need to cut down on expenses. There is more to the preposterous excuse; a massive draw-down of troops in Afghanistan, some 30,000 soldiers, requires ancillary workers (e.g. kitchen staff) to be permitted to go home first. You read that right.
Why on earth, since the massive decrease of troops is already saving the government a bundle, should there be a further need to decrease already-Spartan services provided to soldiers remaining on the firing line? Camp Leatherneck is located in Afghanistan’s southwestern Helmand Province, hedged by Pakistan and Iran. This is not the garden spot of the world and any troops remaining in the area, especially as their numbers decrease, are going to be in more danger. Does it make any sense, whatsoever, to deprive them of simple, hot meal?
Although the marines have maintained rigorous silence about this decision, one soldier wrote to his wife, but declined to speak on the record. According to NBC.com he wrote: “This boils my skin. One of my entire shifts will go 6.5 hours without a meal. If we need to cut back on money I could come up with 100 other places… Instead, we will target the biggest contributor to morale. I must be losing my mind. What is our senior leadership thinking? I just got back from flying my ass off and in a few days, I will not have a meal to replenish me after being away for over 9 hours.” He was being reasonable.
The Lyin’ King’s disdain for the military is common knowledge. Lt. Col. Cliff Gilmore at Camp Leatherneck broke the news. But it is the Lyin’ King’s regime, via the Pentagon, that is instituting this despicable “austerity measure.” The Commander-In-Cheap behaves more like Marie Antoinette. His contempt for the military grows more obvious, daily. On May 24th, he sauntered past the guard of Marine One who saluted him.  He didn’t bother to return the salute. Saturday, ABC7 confirmed that Walter Reed Hospital is furloughing over 3,500 caretakers of the Wounded Warrior Project in July. Part of The Lyin’ King’s sequester, of course. He seems to find such an atrocity acceptable.
The Lyin’ King is unwilling to cut government spending anywhere but the military. Perhaps he needs a few suggestions: Federal funds have been implemented to provide breakfast, lunch and dinner for public school children. The regime plans to extend the program to include weekends. This is a permanent expansion of government spending. The Lyin’ King might have public schools spare a hot meal a day for the limited time the soldiers remain in Afghanistan. Or perhaps he should just stop acting like King Croesus… with our money.