Not Ready, Aim, MisfirernAmerica’s Modern Militaryrnby Christopher CheckrnEmbarkation is the business of puzzling large weapons andrnvehicles, and the Marines that go with them, onto a shiprnthat is run by a man who insists he does not have enough spacernfor all that you need to take in order to do your job once he takesrnyou where you need to go. Fitting four howitzers where three isrna crowd is the most glamorous part of embarkahon; the least isrncounting and issuing the sheets that your Marines ineitablyrnwill use to polish their boots or clean the deck of the berthingrnarea once seasickness has set in. This is the good work that I wasrnseeing to in August 1990, getting set to sail with my platoonrnfrom Okinawa to the Persian Giili.rnOn the day the last truck was griped down, my battalion commander,rnthe aptly named Lt. Col. Swords, called me to his officernand handed me a copy of a Rudyard Kipling poem entitledrn”Snarle}’ow.” Snarleow is a horse, the best lo ed of a team thatrnis charging, cannon and crew in tow, into acfion. “When arntricky trundlin’ roundshot give the knock to Snarleyow,” thernpoor horse is “almost tore in two.” The driver cuts him freernfrom the limber. In spite of his mortal wound, Snarlevow triesrnto follow after the cannon “as a well-trained ‘orse should do.”rnOne of the crew, the driver’s brother, asks the driver to “pidl up”rnfor the wounded horse. The driver responds that he would notrnstop a charging gun e’en if the driver’s brother were woundedrnin action. In the next stanza, this ver)’ fate befalls the driver’srnbrother: He is mortally wounded, and the gun crewrnsaw ‘is wounds was morfil, an’ they judged that it wasrnbest.rnSo they took an’ drove the limber straight across ‘is backrnan’ chest.rnChristopher Check is the executive vice president ofrnThe Rockford Institute.rnThe Driver ‘e give nothin’ ‘cept a little coughin’ grunt,rnBut ‘e swung ‘is ‘orses ‘andsome when it came to “ActionrnFront!”rnAn’ if one wheel was juicy, you may lay your Mondayrnhead,rn’Twas juicier for the niggers when the case begun tornspread.rnThe moril of this story, it is plainly to be seen:rnYou ‘aven’t got no families when serin’ of the Queen —rnYou ‘aven’t got no brothers, fathers, sisters, wives orrnsons—rnIf you want to win your battles take an’ work yourrnbloomin’ guns!rnLt. Col. Swords said, “This is the sort of urgency you need torninstill in your own cannoneers.” The poem is gruesome, butrnyou can see wh- a young artillery officer would find it inspiring.rnI am not sure how battalion commanders keep their company-rngrade officers inspired today, when “Take an’ work yourrnbloomin’ guns” is the least likely of dozens of orders America’srnsoldiers might hear. (In Somalia, it’s take an’ work yourrnbloomin’ soup ladle; in Haifi, it’s take an’ prop up your pettrnthug dictator.) And I would rather not think about what poemsrnofficers might be giving one another these days, given the openmindednessrnof the Clinton administrafion. But it is clear thatrnAmerican militan’ officers—and enlisted men—are becomingrnless and less inspired. They are leaving the service at the rapidrnrate of fire, and they are not being replaced. As Pentagon defensernanalyst Chuck Spinney observed recently, “the Army,rnNaw, and Air Force face the worst recruiting crisis in their histor).”rnThis news is met with grimaces b’ the Bill Kristols, Robertrn20/CHRONICLESrnrnrn