War in Real Life.

If there's anything funny about modern video games, and especially war-themed "first person shooters," it's that they vastly overstate the amount of action that any given soldier experiences. "Call of Duty: Modern Warfare" takes place in Afghanistan and has U.S. soldiers in constant combat with their Taliban foes. But as The New York Times notes today, war is a lot more boring in real life:

For G.I.’s, life on the front lines has two sides. There are, of course, the adrenaline-fueled moments of fighting, when soldiers try to forget their fear, remember their training and watch one another’s backs.

And then there is everything else, the dirty, sweaty, unglamorous and frequently tedious work of being infantrymen. Filling sandbags. Stirring caldrons of burning waste. Lying in the dirt while on guard duty. Cleaning weapons. And more than anything else, waiting — for orders, for patrols, for the chance to sleep or eat. They even wait for the fighting they know will come.

It is a life of wild pendulum swings. One moment, their sergeants are barking at them to stay ready, eyes focused, rifles loaded, protective gear at hand. In the next, the soldiers are searching for amusement, killing time with the skill of people who have had plenty of practice.

Of course, as is the case with everything, The Onion got to this first, with an excellent web video on the mundane reality of war:

-- Jamelle Bouie

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