I am a simple soldier
The majority of citizens in any country have never served in the armed forces of their nation. They have no clue what a soldiers life is like. They only know what they see on TV when there are wars and they see soldiers fighting. The life of a soldier is not all about shooting the enemy.
Sometimes soldiers must clean the latrine (bathrooms). They scrub the toilets, sinks and showers. They clean everything they can reach without a ladder (and being 6 foot 5 inches tall I was “requested” to clean more than other soldiers). The stories about being forced to use toothbrushes to clean toilets are true when we were being punished for not doing the job right the first time.
We were not forced to use the same toothbrushes that we used on the toilets to then clean our teeth.
Sometimes soldiers are required to clean their rooms. From top to bottom our rooms got cleaned. Most of the time three days a week and occasionally seven days (if a General Inspection was going to happen in the next week). We washed the walls, straightened the clothes in our lockers and swabbed the deck (mopped the floors) then we waxed and buffed them to a high shine. Occasionally we would be required to start the cleaning on Sunday afternoon and continue to midnight. Then we slept until zero dark thirty when we got up and ran three to five miles before our normal day began. We had to either clean our own uniforms or take them to the cleaners to be cleaned and pressed. Our sheets and bedding needed to be taken to the soldiers who operate the laundry.
Sometimes solders are required to prepare and serve food. There is a saying that the army moves on its stomach. No army will be effective in combat if not well supplied and feeding soldiers is a 24/7/365 job that goes on around the world and even out at sea on our naval ships. Sometimes I helped peel potatoes (well, yeah, I was “requested” to do this job also). Sometimes I helped serve on the line or in the officers mess (no one expects officers to serve themselves. Rank has its privileges you know). Sometimes I only had to keep my team fed by issuing MRE’s (Meals Ready to Eat).
Sometimes soldiers go to the motor pool and perform preventive maintenance on their vehicles. We checked the tires, changes the oil, washed them inside and out. Sometimes we would have to paint them or do minor repairs. Repacking the bearings after a river crossing was never much fun but definitely necessary to keep our vehicles rolling.
Sometimes soldiers are required to lead. There are classes to be taught by those who are qualified. We must learn military history, foreign military rank, vehicle and aircraft recognition. We need to practice using our equipment and do maintenance on it also. And we need to train other citizens to become soldiers. My favorite training was ROTC (Reserve Officer Training Corps). These were the college students who would eventually become officers and lead us. We wanted them to know how to lead us so that we would have the best chances of survival in the next armed conflict.
Sometimes soldiers are required to prepare for war by participating in war games. These normally start out with an alert going out and all soldiers participating called back to the barracks with their bags packed. After roll call we head to the motor pool to get our vehicles and bring them to the storage area were our gear is stored. We load up our T.O.E. (Table of Organization and Equipment. If this was a live war rather than a game we would now be issued ammunition for our firearms) then line up in the order of the convoy we are assigned to. We then head out to where the war will take place. When we arrive we get set up in our company area as assigned by our leaders. Then the games begin.
They try to make the games as realistic as possible. We are issued grenade and artillery simulators (explosives that act like grenades or sound like artillery when activated). We usually were equipment which signals if we have been fired upon or killed. Then we are assigned to our various positions and prepare with to assault the enemies’ positions or to be assaulted. Then we do our jobs as well as we can and try our best to survive.
Sometimes soldiers are required to go to war. For the QRF (Quick Reaction Force) this meant being summoned to the assembly area with our gear, being issued live ammunition and then heading over to the Military Airport for transport to where our support was needed most. We are not usually given more information that that contained in our five paragraph order. The five paragraphs can be remembered with the acronym SMEACS: Situation, Mission, Execution, Administration, and Logistics, Command and Signal.
I am a simple soldier.
However I no longer serve in the armed forces of my country. I now serve in the army of God. The jobs seem similar in many ways. I still lead classes, perform maintenance on my vehicles, cook and serve food, clean bathroom toilets and daily prepare for spiritual battle.