June 25, 2007


So far I have been a fan of the Army Wives TV show. I think they do a decent job of portraying what our lives are like. But last night's episode didn't sit well with me at all.

In a nutshell, there was a situation where a sergeant took the lieutenant colonel's husband hostage because he was mad about events that happened in Afghanistan. It wasn't the hostage situation that I thought was bad; it was the events in Afghanistan.

According to this story, a "patrol" (no idea how many soldiers) was ambushed and was heavily outnumbered. This guy, the hostage taker, was wounded by shrapnel, so they left him in the Afghan village to be taken care of by the locals and went back to the FOB for reenforcements. But "because of the heat", they couldn't get back to rescue him for days, so the Afghan family took care of him. Once he was rescued, he vowed to come back and help the family. So this sergeant, his lieutenant colonel, and three other soldiers went back to the village to take medical supplies and food, only to find that 12 "heavily-armed" insurgents were burning down the house and raping the 10-year-old daughter in the middle of the street. Because they were outnumbered 12 to 5, and because "the Rules of Engagement are clear: do not interfere with civilian affairs", the lieutenant colonel told them to maintain their positions and stay hidden while they watched a child get raped and murdered.

OK, where to begin. I know I am not a soldier, and I know neither I nor my husband can possibly know all of the strange circumstances that arise in battle. But I cannot imagine any situation of any kind where a unit would leave a wounded soldier behind in an Afghan household. Period. And not for days on end because of the heat! It also seems ridiculous that a lieutenant colonel would roll around Kandahar with a four-man team. My husband's LTC had an entire platoon of entourage at all times, at least 20 men. It seems a bit of a stretch to me that anyone besides Special Forces types are going anywhere in our war zones with only five people! I just don't think that's realistic. So they would've never been outnumbered if they'd taken a proper number of soldiers on this mission.

Finally, the Rules of Engagement thing is not exactly the way my husband describes it. He quoted me a common rule of thumb: a unit might be authorized to use deadly force in circumstances where there is loss of "life, limb, or eyesight." He thinks the rape of a 10 year old in broad daylight would be grounds for a fight, especially if this child belongs to a family who is a known supporter of the American military operation. Again we go back to them being outnumbered 12 to 5, which I don't see ever happening, but my husband did say that in times when you might be extremely outnumbered, there might be cause to not intervene. But this whole "do not interfere with civilian affairs" thing was junk to him because, as he quipped, all al Qaeda types are civilians, so not intervening in civilian matters would apply to everything!

Yeah, yeah, Sarah, all this is just details. But this is the stuff that matters, in my opinion. Most of the people who don't like Army Wives are saying they don't like it because officers don't hang out with enlisted, because you wouldn't get a citation for not mowing on your first day in housing, because a female officer wouldn't be dancing drunk in a jody bar. They think all that stuff gives us a bad impression to civilian viewers.

What about the civilian viewers who now think that American soldiers will sit back and watch a 10 year old get raped and murdered? That our Rules of Engagement won't let us step in and prevent insurgents from killing an innocent family and burning their home? That we are married to men who sit by and do nothing while vile insurgents ruin people's lives? That's a far more dangerous picture to paint for civilians than whether we have all-rank tea parties.

Posted by: Sarah at 08:53 AM | Comments (6) | Add Comment
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1 Don't worry, you weren't the only one who got irked on this. But I was NOT happy with the hostage situation, either. How many of those have you seen? Me neither. But they show it like it's some event that is within the normal scope of events. Not to mention my hubby having conniptions about the Delta Force sniper shooting the soldier, even though he has no law enforcement authority. Finally, I read an interview Catherine Bell gave to Star Magazine (yes, I know, it was Star) and she just does. not. get. it. That bothers me very much. Perhaps they'll get enough screams over this episode that they'll hone the future ones much better.

Posted by: airforcewife at June 25, 2007 09:29 AM (0dU3f)

2 Don't they have anyone working for the show that was (or is) actually affiliated with the Army? If they don't, they need to. Luckily, I haven't watched the show, but I think it would tick me off.

Posted by: Erin at June 26, 2007 05:13 AM (XRza7)

3 Since they are almost done or done with filming, my guess is that we will see this sort of thing AGAIN. I was a little upset, they keep villianizing people with PTSD, this is certainly not going to help in the battle for awareness and money to fix the problem.

Posted by: armywifetoddlermom at June 26, 2007 07:15 AM (PpMPm)

4 I don't think they "get" PTSD, period. The LTC seems to have more issues with reintegration than with PTSD, but they keep calling it PTSD. The semantics of disorder names may not seem like a big deal to some people, but it is a HUGE deal for me. Like telling someone with chicken pox they have the measles. Yeah, yeah - spots and bumps. But they are NOT the same thing - even if they often go together.

Posted by: airforcewife at June 26, 2007 09:56 AM (0dU3f)

5 That entire episode just irked the ^^#%&%$ out of me. I cannot understand why they didn't think the drama of the chopper down was enough drama for one episode! and can anyone tell me why they didn't show the rest of the spouses (there WERE more people on that chopper weren't there?)gathering around? the PTSD crap is making me nuts. and I'm just worried that the civilians are getting the wrong idea about veterans and the families as well. We don't need to have this kind of dis information out there. LAW

Posted by: LAW at June 26, 2007 03:50 PM (2nDll)

6 These shows rarely get it right. "The Unit" is no better. Each week is the same theme. The unit guys doing cool stuff (but never getting close to the actual war) while Big Army each week is trying to hose the average soldier. Bring back JAG. At least they got the uniforms right.

Posted by: MAJHAM at June 28, 2007 08:29 AM (Scezw)

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