Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Semper Gumby

Well, we still don't know when we are flying out of Afghanistan, and we don't know for certain when we will be released from Ft Riley to go home; but that's par for the course, really.

When things are constantly changing, as they have so many times during this deployment, there is a simple motto to keep us going; "Semper Gumby." Semper Gumby is Latin for "Always Flexible."

The ancient Greeks, the same good people who invented Latin, also invented Gumby. This was proven by the recent finding of a several thousand year old Gumby at the site of the battle of Marathon.

Okay... I made that part up. Except for the part about Latin. The Greeks did invent that. That part is true.

Semper Gumby does mean, "Always Flexible," though.

Gumby is the ultimate warrior. The Chuck Norris fans (Norissians) would disagree and cry out that Chuck Norris could roundhouse kick Gumby into next week; but that's not true. His head would go into next week, but due to his flexibility, his feet would remain in this week, and he would simply unbend himself back into the same time frame as his feet, thereby defeating Norrissian mojo.

Flexibility is the key. All else leads to insanity and pissing off the leadership who make the plans that require the ultimate in flexibility from those who must execute them with no visible means of support.

"With flexibility comes serenity. With serenity comes power. He who is capable of bending like the Gumby will pass through great forces without shattering to overcome his foe." -- Sun Tsu*

Gumby maintains an M-240 machine gun at an undisclosed FOB

It doesn't matter what someone in a position of apparent decision-making ability says, because it will change. Rigidity in the face of such rapid changes of direction will result in cracking, peeling, chafing, and an overwhelming irritation. Combat Rigidity Fatigue is a major contributing factor in many cases of PDCD (Post Dysfunctional Command Disorder.)

Gumby prepares to head out on another exciting patrol

Working with Afghans also requires a great deal of flexibility. Afghans will drive the mentally rigid to distraction with their sometimes unpredictable, seemingly whimsical behavior. Gumby was heavily involved in all of our mentoring and advising operations with the ANP.

Gumby mentoring the ANP on flexibility operations

Dealing with Afghan civilians requires a gumbylike flexibility, too. Nothing will screw up your timeline like an Afghan who suddenly decides that his 50 goats need to be on the other side of the road. Gumby is vigilant, yet flexible to deal with capricious Afghan conditions while on combat patrols.

Gumby maintains vigilant flexibility on a combat patrol

Gumbyish flexibility is a combat multiplier, which is militarese for, "it makes you fight better." Counterinsurgency operations require a particular flexibility. This isn't some barren wasteland where there are only two opposing armies. The enemy here dresses in no special uniform. His forts are mud-walled khalats that look just like every other mud-walled khalat. It takes flexibility to work your way into the cracks between the average working Afghan and the local Talibs.

Gumby says, "If you can't find a crack, go in a window."

There is a lot of beauty in Afghanistan, as well as the mind-numbing poverty and, of course, rocks. Gumbyish flexibility permits one the mental room to appreciate the quiet moments of combat, too. The peaceful serenity of a mountain stream is still the peaceful serenity of a mountain stream in the midst of war.

Gumby enjoys the peaceful serenity of a mountain stream.

If the Russians had Gumby, the Soviet Union would never have collapsed, the Berlin wall would never have fallen, and we would all be quoting Marx to avoid being beaten with sticks. The Russians did not have Gumby, because Gumby is all-American (the part about the ancient Greeks being made up,) and he demonstrates the amazing flexibility of Americans. Being made of gumbyite, the most flexibly tough element in the universe, he is the only thing that cannot be destroyed by a Chuck Norris roundhouse kick. If Chuck Norris and Gumby ever teamed up, they could conquer the known everything, and Gumby would let Chuck Norris be the emperor of everything because he is just that damned flexible.

Gumby saved the free world.

"Semper Gumby!"

* Okay, I made that part up, too. I don't know if Sun Tsu ever said such a thing, but you can't prove he didn't, either. He just didn't actually write it in his best-selling book The Art of War.


  1. That thumping sound you hear is me falling out of my chair from laughing so hard! Gumby is a scream - the R&R waterfall shot is priceless.

  2. It's nice to see after such a long (leaving out many adjectives here that would be appropriate but that YOU lived through, not me) deployment that you still have a fantastic sense of humor.

    Semper Gumby! But hopefully for less than a few days. I love reading your posts but couldn't mean it more when I tell you I want to click on the link to your blog for days on end and see NOTHING new because you are traveling home then spending MUCH time with your family.

    A Gazillion thank yous for being the great American that you are and for your selfless service and sacrifice on behalf of this nation.

    Safe travels.

  3. The Thunder Run has linked to this post in the blog post From the Front: 03/27/2008 News and Personal dispatches from the front lines.

  4. But why does the Army have to be so "Pokey"? (Sorry, but surely you knew that comment was bound to happen.)

  5. Because for some reason I'm a history grump, I'll just say for the record that Latin was the language of the Roman empire and the people living in what is now Italy. The ancient Greeks spoke greek, although the language has changed a great deal over the years.

    On another note, love your blog, check it daily and enjoyed today's posting :)

  6. Hiya, Hero! I especially loved the picture with the Afghani man holding Gumby, while the one to his right rear has a most perplexed, and slightly vexed look on his face. It's as if he's saying to his bud, "hey, Fool! Whatchoo holdin' that freak thing fo? Ain't that fo kids?"

  7. I love it! Such a popular saying so it was nice to GUMBY actually IN action. Good stuff.

  8. Artful mix of military speak with a great dose of humor! Excellent photo Ops as well.

    Salute from an old Defensor Fortis!

  9. Artful mix of military speak with a great dose of humor! Great photo Ops as well.

    Salute from an old Defensor Fortis!

  10. Okay I found this googling for pic of Gumby fo rmy blog. OMG--too funny. I am going to subscribe to you guys.

    Hope you are safe.
    We are all Gumby...


  11. Hey there you.

    Int: how come "Gumby" and not "Gumbi"?
    Now I don't expect Marines to know how to spell, but I got a feeling this is almost impossible. (My guess: ending a word with "i" is just gay. *shrug* Just a thought.

    ben ... formerly 49thLER/4PPCLI now huh huh AA2|75th Ranger Regiment

    p.s. ... stay well, and know that we're just over the horizon from you


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