Eric Kocher on Soldiers in Iraq
Question: How did Abu Gharib effect the morale of the troops?
Eric Kocher: It was kind of frustrating for me, ‘cause it changed the way we do our interrogations. We do a lot of field interrogations and everything, and you got this one guy, it’s sad to say, he’s probably just mimicking other people that he saw doing interrogations, probably guys at a much higher level than what he was doing, and he probably, in his head, thought he was doing the right thing. I know deep down in my heart he thought he was doing the right thing. That was his piece of the war, and he was going to contribute, because he wasn’t out gun-slinging, he was in here keeping control of detainees, but the problem is he was misguided, and he didn’t realize that his decision was a strategic level decision that affected the world. He thought it just a little tactical level decision, and that’s why these guys, these corporals, which the term that you always hear that’s coined a lot is the strategic level corporal. It’s true. Every guy that’s 22 years old, 23 years old is making levels...making decisions that can change the world, and that’s what a lot of people don’t really understand.
Question: Is the senior leadership as incompetent as its made out to be in Generation Kill?
Eric Kocher: I think it is a lot of the officers that are over there. Let’s be honest. They don’t have the practical application, the actual training where they’ve actually done it. They’ve read about it, and I know the Officer Program has changed dramatically since then, but yeah they’re put in a position... I mean my last deployment, my battalion commander’s never been to Iraq. I’ve been there four times already. I live in Ziadon. I think I have a house down there near the Euphrates River I gotta go check on here. Let’s be honest. The guy’s never been there, and then he’s telling me how to do my job. It’s very frustrating. He doesn’t want to listen to my ideas or anything, because he thinks he understands what’s going on, and don’t get me wrong I know still even as a platoon sergeant I have a very myoptic [sic] view of what’s going on, but let’s be honest. When I spend three years, I think two years in Ziadon specifically, I know what’s going on in that area. This guy doesn’t, and we made a lot of mistakes because being pushed down from the battalion.
Question: How has the media covered the war in Iraq?
Eric Kocher: The problem is the media likes to jump on all the negative stuff right away. I mean, look how many people like jumped onto the Abu Garib, the Hadifah massacres and some of the other stuff that’s gone on over there. You know, event the Jessica Lynch stuff. Everyone jumps on and they love to have this drama and the subplot and all this other stuff, but how many times do you hear about, you know, the 5,000 whatever schools we started up over there? You don’t hear about all the small things we’ve done, all the medical shops that we’ve done to help people. You don’t hear about that, because nobody wants to hear about it. You don’t hear about units like recon, and there’s a thousand other units out there doing phenomenal jobs out there, because they are working in more of an asymmetric role, and they’re not going in there strong fisting the locals. You know what I mean? They’re going in and helping at the smallest level of bringing water, bringing food, but you don’t hear about that.
Question: What needs to happen next in Iraq?
Eric Kocher: I don’t know. I think we’re kind of hurting right now. I think overall, our military needs to evolve to the 21st century, and it’s going to be very hard to do while we’re in this war. If you look at how many troops we deployed in the Gulf War compared to what we have now, it’s, I think, like 1/6th of what we
used there, because the technologies are our force multiplier right now. Our technology is so advanced and so precise, but the truth is the guys on our troop level, I don’t think they’ve evolved to that point. So we need to, I think, look at that, which is going to be very hard to do during this war. These guys need to be sharper individuals. They need to be older, more mature. And this is my personal opinion, but a 22 year old kid making these decisions-- it should be a 32 year old man with a very sizable paycheck so you’re not seeing all these guys leave to go contract, ‘cause that’s what you’re seeing. A lot of your real sharp guys, your critical thinkers are like, “All right. $42,000.00 a year or I can go work for Blackwater MVM and make four times this.” What are they going to do? You know, so there’s not really that incentive to stay in the military. For me, I got out because I was filling a Staff Sergeant billet, or I was filling a gunnery Sergeant’s billet, and I was a Staff Sergeant, you know. If you really look at what I was asking for is a $5,000.00 a year raise, which is nothing, and I’m on my fifth tour, which is—- I mean, you can’t even put a price tag on that, but yet they won’t give me the raise. All right. I’m going to leave, and I’m going to find another job. The truth is I was getting out to go contract, but there’s a thousand guys out there like me that are just, you know, not saying we’re all doing it for money, but the truth is when Oceanside, California garbage man makes more pay than I do, there’s a problem.
Question: What are some of the misperceptions of the war?
Eric Kocher: I mean, you know, even though Rumsfeld been everyone’s scapegoat, he does have a very good idea of what he was doing with our Special Operations Community and with our military in general, and the problem was is we were doing it during the war, which is very hard to do, and then everyone started to bombarding us with throwing all this armor on the vehicles, which was costing us a lot of money,
and the truth is we didn’t need armor on the vehicles. You know, what we needed to do is secure our main service routes, secure them so they couldn’t be IED’d, not just keep throwing armor on, and it’s like a ping-pong match. We throw more armor. They just make bigger roadside bombs. What if we just had the troops to lock down these MSRs that we needed, and come up with a more, I think, articulate plan on what we were going to do there, but his concept of what he started to do and of what we need to do, and then there’s a lot of other geniuses out there.
Recorded on: 7/17/08
Eric Kocher on life and death in Iraq
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Whether or not women think beards are sexy has to do with "moral disgust"
- A new study found that women perceive men with facial hair to be more attractive as well as physically and socially dominant.
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Beards and perceptions of masculinity<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMjU5OTg0MC9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY0NzkxMjM3N30.cH-GqNwP5GVqvstgJWAhBPn1B_lYpVEAI0I7iax7EQw/img.jpg?width=1245&coordinates=0%2C1900%2C0%2C849&height=700" id="caae6" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="cb0a355a4e8e1899789bc45f3f7aef56" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
Photo Credit: Wikimedia<p>The study used 919 American (mostly white) women ages 18-70 who rated 30 pictures of men they were shown with various stages of facial hair growth. The photographs depicted men with faces that had been digitally altered to look more feminine or more masculine, with a beard and without a beard. The women rated the men according to perceived attractiveness for long-term and short-term relationships. The study found that the more facial hair the men had, the higher the men were rated on their attractiveness, particularly for their suitability for a long-term relationship.</p><p>Part of this might be attributed to facial masculinity — i.e. protruding brow ridge, wide cheekbones, thick jawline, and deeply set narrow eyes — which conveys information to a woman about a man's underlying health and formidability. Women tend to associate more masculine faces with physical strength and social assertiveness. It can also indicate a man with a superior immune response. The researchers suggested that their findings favoring bearded men could be due to the fact that facial hair enhances the masculine facial features on a man's face, like creating the illusion of a thicker jaw line. This could communicate direct benefits to women like resources and protection that would enhance survival among mothers and their infants. In other words, while a beard doesn't mean superior genetics in and of itself, it might be a primitive, ornamental way of saying, "Hey girl, I'm a testosterone-fueled lean, mean, pathogen fighting machine." <br></p><p>It could also be that a beard becomes its own destiny. The researchers in this study cite prior research that found that by growing a beard, men felt more masculine and had higher levels of serum testosterone, which was linked to a higher level of social dominance. They also tended to subscribe to more old-school beliefs about gender roles in their relationships with women as compared to men with clean-shaven faces.<span></span><br></p>
What does disgust have to do with beard preference?<p>Obviously, not all women dig beards. The researchers were particularly interested in what traits make a women prefer bearded men over clean-shaven faces. They looked into several factors including a woman's disgust levels on various concepts, her desire to become pregnant, and her exposure to facial hair in her personal life. </p><p>According to the study, women who were not into facial hair were turned-off by potential parasites or other critters they imagined could be in the hair or skin. Women ranking high on this "ectoparasite disgust" scale might have viewed beards as a sign of poor grooming habits. However, women who ranked higher in levels of "pathogen" did find the bearded men to be desirable, possibly because they perceived beards as a signal of good health and immune function. An intriguing discovery in the study was links to morality. Women who displayed higher levels of "moral disgust," or feelings of repugnance toward taboo behaviors, were more likely to prefer hairy faces. The authors opined that this could reflect a link between beardedness, politically conservative outlooks, and traditional views regarding performances of masculinity in heterosexual relationships.</p>
Additional findings<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMjU5OTg1My9vcmlnaW4uZ2lmIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYyNDI1NjUyOX0.P9B8WbmJR0q4nfzYZKbuNSA-2SAigVWJgrQE-_Gxlds/img.gif?width=980" id="49143" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="2ed3b1d6f20fc170bf2974646e565e8d" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />Giphy<p>The correlations that existed between married and single women's rating on the attractiveness of beards were not particularly clear, although the researchers noted that single and married women who wanted children tended to find beards more attractive than the women who didn't want children. They also found that women with bearded husbands found beards to be more attractive, which might indicate that social exposure to beards influences how desirable they are perceived of as being. Or it could be that men with wives who like beards grow beards.</p><p>It's important to note that culture plays a huge role in how attractive women perceive certain male characteristics as being. This study looked at a small, culturally specific group of American women, so no big, universal claims should be made about masculinity, facial hair, and male desirability to women. However, research like this is important in highlighting how human grooming decisions are driven by much more than fashion trends. Sociobiological, economic, and ecological factors all play a part in the way we choose to present ourselves.</p>
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