Somebody call Michael Hastings! Now the Army isn't just trying to brainwash Congress -- it's inducting its staffers directly into its own ranks! Sort of. The Army did bring out a group of Hill staffers to see the soldier lifestyle at the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, Calif., according to an official story this week.
For two days, the staffers traded suits and offices for sand and desert camouflage uniforms as NTC leaders gave them an up-close look at the training rotational soldiers experience here. Their jam-packed schedule included meals in one of Fort Irwin's dining facilities, demonstrations of the NTC's robotics capabilities, and a briefing on the NTC's function and role in the Army.Sounds like the Army was trying to ... influence them! Sure, the services do this all the time. And sure, many of these staffers work for members of Congress who already support the military from their positions on the Armed Services Committees ... and they were convinced about the need to protect it from spending cuts before they even made the trip ... so ... maybe no need for a Rolling Stone expose after all. But wait! What's this? Looks like the Army did get inside the head of one guest, after all:
But for many in the delegation, the real highlight of their visit was spending the second day of it in "The Box," the training areas used to train soldiers and units. After spending the night in augmentee billets, and for some, participating in physical readiness training, the staffers headed to the NTC's Medina Wasl village. Decked out in DCUs, the uniform worn by soldiers portraying the Iraqi Army in "The Box," the staffers were issued helmets, eye protection, and M-4 rifles. They were divided into platoons led by Fort Irwin soldiers, who gave them a crash course in basic operation and maintenance of their weapons. Like rotational soldiers, the staffers were required to wear or carry all of their equipment throughout the day, a task made more difficult by the 55 mph winds that raged in the high desert.
Nadia Zahran, who works in the office of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, said visiting the NTC changed her mind about the facility's importance to the Army. Before the visit, Zahran wondered whether all of the NTC's state-of-the-art capabilities were really necessary, she said. "Going into it, I didn't grasp what went on out here," Zahran said. "But the biggest thing I've learned here is that you need that constant exposure to those situations. In terms of everyone saying, 'cut spending,' something like this is essential to what our Army does."There you have it -- another satisfied customer of the miracle-workers in MultiCam. And they apparently didn't even need to use 'psychological operations.'