Sunday, August 14, 2005

The Greatest TEWT in Military History

military folks will know what a TEWT is, and will immediately get this joke.

(for the uninitiated, a TEWT is a Tactical Exercise Without Troops, a way to illustrate a tactical point in the field without actually maneuvering your forces. a TEWT is most often used in formal schools, such as the Marine Corps' Basic School, where you have masses of eager young lieutenants working out a hypothetical tactical problem-- "i'd emplace my machine guns here," and "1st squad will attack up this draw," and so on.)

TEWTs are very useful things, but they are frequently the butt of jokes, with the name being reworked into Total Waste of Available Time, or Practical Exercise Not Involving Soldiers (spell those out and you'll get the point).

without further ado, the greatest TEWT ever known, found in chapter 11 of Bugles And A Tiger, by John Masters; the memoirs of a young British Army officer serving in a Gurkha regiment in India in the 1930s.

“We… discussed a problem which tradition said was set to officers about to qualify from the riding school of the French Army at Saumur. I didn’t believe the tradition at the time, but it is true; a couple years ago I had the opportunity of confirming it from a French general and cabinet minister. When the French officer had passed all his tests in horsemanship and horsemastership, he still had another trial to undergo before was passed as a true cavalryman, Frenchman, and heir of Murat. He was allotted three horses, three bottles of champagne, three whores, and a cross-country route of thirty miles. He had to cover the course in all particulars in three hours. The problem was, obviously, in what order should he tackle his fences? We reached no agreement on a single plan to solve the problem presented in this interesting TEWT…”

now, i don't profess to have a solution. but since a little bit of champagne goes a long way for me, at least i know what i'd do last. :-)



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