"Drop down here, my little brown friend," says Brad, and Gabe jumps down into the truck. "Missions are always getting fragged. We're Marines. We obey our orders. Our mission now is not to do our original mission." That's... sort of satisfying, I guess, in the usual counterintuitive military way, to think of it that way. The whole voluntary way that you just decide to go along with the idea that yellow is green because they say so, until green is suddenly red, and you have to have the class not to even like remember that it used to be yellow... It's a pretty big theme throughout the episode, and the book.
It's difficult to get your fingers around it, though, because while the chain of command rests on the idea that you follow orders unquestioningly, the whole things rests on its own little idea that officership is manifest destiny/divine right of kings and that nobody would be promoted or become an officer that doesn't deserve it in the first place, and that's the part that's falling down. So every second is a mutiny and the refutation of that mutiny, because you're holding yourself and everybody around you up against an impossible standard, and striving to reach it. Which is nice -- and it's exactly the reason I love Nate Fick so much, because he understands the tension in that moment, and is able to put his feelings about honor and patriotism and that stuff into words so beautifully -- except by that same token you're constantly failing to reach it, which isn't depressing unless it's your superior officer doing the fucking up, and then it's like all I would be able to think about. My CO is God/my CO is an idiot. "Semper Gumby," says Garza, climbing back out, "Always flexible."
Later, Brad decides to take a shit. Which is bad news, because something horrible always happens when Brad decides to take a shit. Immediately after he takes off for what Ray calls his "first combat dump in country," Nate radios in for him so they can discuss the total non-win that is Nasiriyah.
Ray is distracted, however, by the equally maddening and kind of adorably clueless sight of fucking idiotic Captain America goose-stepping past -- literally humming the Marine Hymn (that's the one about Montezuma and Tripoli) -- with a shiny AK in his hands. He looks so ridiculous and unreal all the time, I love it. Ray praises his AK, and Captain America proudly explains that he got it from an enemy cache: "Well-oiled, pretty clean. Not bad for a third-world army." He very officiously hands the gun over to some Corporal and lectures the guy about how you have to be prepared and blah blah and the guy kisses his ass for a second -- "That's why you're in charge, sir!" -- and then spits like Sophia Petrillo after his retreat, like this wet, giant loogie, onto the ground, and then complains to the black mustache guy that was telling the ass-licking story last week: "To think I believed the judge when he told me the Marine Corps was a superior alternative to jail. I should have shut up and done my time." The guy just sighs. Captain America makes everybody so, so tired.