Monday, March 26, 2007

God hates Gays?

Outside a major military installation Sunday I saw those protestors who believe God is punishing the U.S. in Iraq for our tolerance of homosexuals. Sunday they were just protesting on the corner, but their favorite tactic is to protest at the burial of US Soldiers.

These people are as bad as the Islamist fundamentalists we are fighting. How someone can call themselves a Christian and spew hate at the same time has never made any sense to me. Did they only read the Old Testament and stop? How anyone can believe this crap is beyond me, but it just goes to show that all people in all cultures are susceptible to wacko believes that cause adherents to act outside the bounds of normal ethics.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

breaking the will of your enemy to fight?

I just watched a Discover program on the battle of Thermopylae, and I can't help but see the analogy between the Persian invasion of Greece and our current occupation in Iraq. While the Persians enjoyed immense numerical superiority over the Greeks, the spirited resistance caused them to give up the fight. While there are certainly arguments in favor of withdrawing from Iraq, it will hand our enemy a PR victory and while Iraq descends into civil war, they will begin plotting the next battle, whether in Africa, Afghanistan, India, or at some point in the U.S. itself.

What really rankles me about the bill that was just passed in the house however are two points 1) according to some reports $400 million of the bill are essentially bribes to win votes - pork barrel projects unrelated to the war in Representatives districts who decided to vote in favor after the bribe was added to the bill (spinach growers got $25 million, the shrimp industry received $120 million, Federal support for peanut storage, due to expire after 2006, was extended one year at a cost of $74 million, and shellfish producers got $5 million)

2) the provision to require by law a 12 month rest period before redeployment of troops. This is the type of feel-good legislation that we don't need from the Dems. The only way you could do that is to force the troops already in Iraq to stay longer so that their relief can stay in the States to meet the requirement of the law. That is hardly fair, and would be needless interference from the Congress


I could certainly write a book on how I got here - although it would be a boring book. But I thought I would put down a few thoughts, especially since it may be hard for people who have never served to understand why I would stay in at a time when being deployed is just a matter of time.

When I first enlisted in the Army Reserves back in 1989, I was in desperate need of college money, and I wanted to get as far away from my home town as I could. The Reserves gave me a chance to get some great training, travel a bit, and get the money to go to college - all without having to put up with day to day Army life. I enjoy being a Soldier, but I do not like garrison life when you aren't executing a mission. I was lucky enough to get into the intelligence field (yes, I'd have to kill you) and go to the Defense Language Institute in Monterey. I had little idea of what DLI was like, but it was an awesome place to be stationed, and it was under the instruction of some great Czech expats that I discovered I liked, and was good at learning languages.

I went on to graduate from college summa cum laude, in great part due to the discipline I acquired in the Army, and started a successful career in IT consulting, first with Andersen, then Sapient, and helped start a few companies as well. I left the Reserves when my time was having felt I served my time for the benefits I received, but yet unfulfilled in way only a player who sits on the bench understands. But there were more important fish to fry, the tech space was on fire, and in 1996 when Sapient went public, things were just getting going...

I never gave another thought to going back into the service until 9/11, when of course everything changed. I have many friends and former colleagues in NYC and on that day two were killed and several helped dig in the ruble. I have never considered myself gung-ho, but I do believe that every citizen has a duty to serve the Republic, and we had just been attacked, so after getting back in shape, I re-enlisted - this time in the Guard. Just in time for the invasion of Iraq, or so I would have thought given the dire shortage of people in my field. But that is not how the Army works, and I was deployed to Bosnia-Herzegovina as part of the peace-keeping operation known as SFOR, implemented as part of the Dayton accords when President Clinton stopped that horrible war.

While Bosnia was a peace-keeping mission it was a great intel mission, and I gained some solid experience. The place was much like I imagined the Cold War at it's peak - the place was filled with intel agents from friends and foe alike, all trying to one up the other while always collecting on each other. The experience left me with a love of the job, but a disgust for the way the average Joe was treated and the total lack of leadership I saw. I came home certain I would get out.

Then I was relocated by work and ended up in a great unit which has yet again given me the opportunity to things I never would have thought I would. But the best thing about this unit, and what keeps me here, is the quality of the men and the initiative people take to get things done. Sure, we have our fair share of Army BS, but it isn't half what I experienced elsewhere. And that why I have stayed here even though the risk was getting higher of deployment.

Plus I don't believe in running away - if everyone were to leave the service our country would be in a world of hurt. Who would keep our love ones safe? Just as we need plumbers, programmers, and project managers, we need people who are prepared to defend us, no matter how much some on the Left may wish otherwise (see the excellent piece, On Sheep, Wolves, and Sheepdogs by LTC David Grossman for a better explanation than I ever could.)

The truth is I don't care much about going to Iraq, I would have much rather gone to Afghanistan to go after the bastards that attacked us. My hope is only that I can focus on fighting our enemies in Iraq, and possibly help in stabilizing the place so it doesn't turn into a proxy of Iran in the East, and an Al Qaeda training area in the West. The truth is, whether we choose to acknowledge it or not that this war (the long war) will not end with the war in Iraq. So we stand and fight. I do believe that the counter-insurgency strategy GEN Petraeus has written is the way we should have fought this from the beginning, and the shame is that we are just trying now to really win.

I'll stop now, but that's a bit about why I'm going.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Why this blog?

I am heading to Iraq and want to use this blog to keep track of what happens, and share that with my family and friends. Some posts will be mundane I am sure, but some may actually make you laugh, and some may make you stop and think. Occasionally, I will be ranting about some idiocy the Army has decided to inflict on me and my comrades. Enjoy;)