March 29, 2004

OPERATION AC

I charged home from work at 2130 tonight and soaked up as much beer, Chex mix, and South Park as was possible in 30 minutes. And then I got hit with Greyhawk's guilthammer.

My dad's worked in air conditioning for his entire adult life, so it only seemed natural that I should donate to Operation AC. Especially after reading "I would like to continue but we operate on donations and people just are sick of hearing about the war and have essentially stopped donating all together."

Well, that was enough to make me give up a couple of DVDs. Maybe you could too? At the very least, you should go over to Mudville Gazette and leave some morale-boosting words for our brave servicemembers. I plan to wait until this comments section gets sufficiently big (read more than 8!!!) and then print it and send a copy to all of my husband's soldiers.

Get 'er done, readers.

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March 28, 2004

SUPPORT

Oda Mae pointed out a recent article in The Prague Post Online written by "a founding member of the Prague branch of American Voices Abroad." That's enough to make me want to stay far away from this article, but there are a few things I'd like to address. (Usch, and I have lots of work to do today...)

Farnsworth's premise is that we should feel more emotion and sorrow for innocent Iraqis who have been killed than our bloodthirsty and automaton troops. While I do regret the deaths of innocent Iraqis, I side with Den Beste when he says that in war there is no such thing as a civilian and that I value American citizens more than citizens of any other country. In that sense, Farnsworth's article doesn't really bother me because we're arguing apples and oranges.

I've also already addressed the meaninglessness of the Support Our Troops slogan, but I'll say again that simply holding a sign that says you support our troops is not the same thing as writing a soldier a letter or donating to Soldiers' Angels. It's an empty phrase when paired with opposition to the war on terror.

So Farnsworth and I have no common ground for any sort of discussion. I've come to the realization that it's hardly worth getting upset over someone who's so far from my line of thinking. But there are a few flaws in his reasoning I'd like to mention.

There are parts of this ruse that I might buy. Most soldiers are young and can hardly be blamed for finding themselves in the middle of a war. Many of them signed up facing the choice between lousier work and joining the military. Some joined to afford college, as did Jessica Lynch, only to find herself maimed in battle and then used for Pentagon propaganda. Some find a military career attractive because it offers the benefits, such as subsidized housing and health care, of a semisocialist organization.

In light of my revelation yesterday, I must strenuously say that if you're not prepared to fight a war, don't sign on the dotted line. This recent (though not surprising) crop of conscientious objectors and jerks fleeing to Canada deserve contempt, not sympathy. Don't join the military for college perks (another post for another day) or housing benefits or any of the other benefits that distract you from your real mission: to go to undesirable corners of the world and kill people. If you can't handle that, then you had no business signing up. Period.

News of such U.S. atrocities in Iraq has come out in scattered reports. U.S. Marine Sergeant Eric Schrumpf revealed that his training in civilian casualties taught that killing a large number of innocents all at once looked bad but that killing them a few at a time was OK. About the civilian woman he had just murdered because she stood too close to his target, he said, "I'm sorry, but the chick got in the way."

Turning to the psychopathic tendencies within the war, we have Corporal Ryan Dupre blurting to a reporter, "The Iraqis are sick people and we are the chemotherapy. I am starting to hate this country. Wait till I get hold of a friggin' Iraqi. No, I won't get hold of one. I'll just kill him."

Maybe I'm a hardened old Army wife, but this doesn't bother me at all. Our servicemembers have to have some way to deal with their mission. Whether it's detachment and indifference or raging hatred towards the enemy, they're both coping mechanisms, and they're both valid. I've heard my husband say that he'd take anyone out who looked remotely suspicious. That's a healthy way of dealing with the stress of combat. Would we rather our soldiers stopped to contemplate their ethical dilemma and in the meantime get wasted by an IED in a Coke can?

SOT involves a "my-side-versus-your-side" premise while creating a mental shortcut around actually thinking about it. Are we supposed to support any U.S. soldier on "our" side more than every single Iraqi? ... Are we supposed to support any Sergeant Schrumpf more than however many "chicks" he murdered? Should we support "our" troops over their civilians?

Yes.

Personally, I support those with whom I feel kinship. I feel none at all with the chicken hawks in government running this aggression and none with troops like Schrumpf. I do not support them. I feel sorry for but little kinship with soldiers who find themselves in a bad position and just shoot wherever they are told, as the captured soldier said. I support them as much as I sympathize with them. But I feel more sympathy for the civilians murdered by U.S. weapons, for the children sliced to pieces by cluster bombs, for the women blown apart by bunker busters -- and for their survivors.

Well, then that is where you and I differ, Farnsworth. Look, I've met dirtbag soldiers. I have heard firsthand one private's despicable tales from Kosovo, and that's why he got chaptered out and his buddy is now in jail. There are jerks in our military, but there are jerks in every demographic of society, and there are Iraqi jerks and Afghan jerks and surely Farnsworth has met some jerks in Prague. But don't quote two soldiers and blow their remarks out of proportion into the reason why we should support Iraqis instead of our troops.

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AVERAGE

I've gotten this email forward before, and although parts are a bit stereotypcial, overall I really like the image it conjures.

The average age of the military man is 19 years. He is a short haired, tight-muscled kid who, under normal circumstances is considered by society as half man, half boy. Not yet dry behind the ears, not old enough to buy a beer, but old enough to die for his country. He never really cared much for work and he would rather wax his own car than wash his father's; but he has never collected unemployment either.

He's a recent High School graduate; he was probably an average student, pursued some form of sport activities, drives a ten year old jalopy, and has a steady girlfriend that either broke up with him when he left, or swears to be waiting when he returns from half a world away. He listens to rock and roll or hip-hop or rap or jazz or swing and 155mm howizzitor. He is 10 or 15 pounds lighter now than when he was at home because he is working or fighting from before dawn to well after dusk.

He has trouble spelling, thus letter writing is a pain for him, but he can field strip a rifle in 30 seconds and reassemble it in less time in the dark. He can recite to you the nomenclature of a machine gun or grenade launcher and use either one effectively if he must. He digs foxholes and latrines and can apply first aid like a professional. He can march until he is told to stop or stop until he is told to march.

He obeys orders instantly and without hesitation, but he is not without spirit or individual dignity. He is self-sufficient. He has two sets of fatigues: he washes one and wears the other. He keeps his canteens full and his feet dry. He sometimes forgets to brush his teeth, but never to clean his rifle. He can cook his own meals, mend his own clothes, and fix his own hurts. If you're thirsty, he'll share his water with you; if you are hungry, his food. He'll even split his ammunition with you in the midst of battle when you run low.

He has learned to use his hands like weapons and weapons like they were his hands. He can save your life - or take it, because that is his job. He will often do twice the work of a civilian, draw half the pay and still find ironic humor in it all. He has seen more suffering and death then he should have in his short lifetime.

He has stood atop mountains of dead bodies, and helped to create them. He has wept in public and in private, for friends who have fallen in combat and is unashamed. He feels every note of the National Anthem vibrate through his body while at rigid attention, while tempering the burning desire to 'square-away' those around him who haven't bothered to stand, remove their hat, or even stop talking. In an odd twist, day in and day out, far from home, he defends their right to be disrespectful.

Just as did his Father, Grandfather, and Great-grandfather, he is paying the price for our freedom. Beardless or not, he is not a boy. He is the American Fighting Man that has kept this country free for over 200 years.

He has asked nothing in return, except our friendship and understanding. Remember him, always, for he has earned our respect and admiration with his blood. And now we even have woman over there in danger, doing their part in this tradition of going to War when our nation calls us to do so. As you go to bed tonight, remember this shot...a short lull, a little shade and a picture of loved ones in their helmets.


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March 27, 2004

SOLDIER

I had a realization today about the deployment. I can safely say that I have done less complaining about the soldiers being gone for a year than other wives I know have, but I have in fact grumbled a little about how long a year is and how hard it is on the soldiers. But today I realized I've been looking at this all wrong. Deployment is in fact the raison d'etre for a soldier. It's the default position.

My father is a sales manager for Carrier. His employer pays him to sell big corporate air conditioning jobs. They don't pay him to sit in his office and get ready to sell these jobs, or to have his co-workers come in and pretend to be potential buyers so he can run through a would-be scenario. His job is to actually do the selling. In the same way, my husband's job is to actually be a soldier, not just to train to be one. Going to CMTC and gunnery and training exercises is a vital part of my husband's preparation, but his actual job is to be in Iraq (or Afghanistan or Haiti or wherever the heck else they send him).

Therefore, I think the analogy to the Superbowl is not entirely accurate, though it still has merit. Instead I think that I should start looking at this is the way it's supposed to be. My husband is supposed to be in Iraq because that's what his job is, just as a firefighter is supposed to fight fires or a teacher is supposed to teach. In fact, I've heard the word "soldier" used as a verb many times in our short Army career, and all of a sudden it makes more sense.

A soldier is supposed to soldier. In Iraq. Period.

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March 26, 2004

85%

The other day my mom called me laughing because her brother had just called her ready to blow a gasket while watching Kennedy on Meet the Press. Tanker pointed out something to me that I hadn't yet had time to post. Kennedy said:

Yeah, there would probably, probably. But I can tell you this: There would be a much greater participation of other countries around the world. This is laughable, this coalition. 85 percent of all the troops over there now are United
States troops, and 85 percent of the casualties--the casualties--are American troops. There's no reason that we can't have other troops from other nations participate and gradually free American troops from that responsibility. That would be the objective, and that would be the aim. I think that could be achievable.

Tanker then pointed out:

Multilateral, United Nations Authorized, France Approved,
Foreign Troops in the Korean War:

300,000 -- US
39,474 -- Foreign
339,474 -- Total

88% US

Australia 2,282
Belgium 900
Canada 6,146
Colombia 1,068
Ethiopia 1,271
France 1,119
Greece 1,263
Holland 819
Luxembourg 44
New Zealand 1,385
Philippines 1,496
South Africa 826
Thailand 1,204
Turkey 5,453
United Kingdom 14,198
United States 302,483


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KOREA

When I taught ESL back in Illinois, the majority of my students were from South Korea. In my small conversation classes, we talked about the military, since many of the men had done their mandatory Korean service. The older gentlemen in my classes, those in the 40 year old range, thought very highly of the US military and insisted that the American presence was still very necessary. But they said that the younger Koreans don't see things the same way.

The nonprofit think tank’s report, released earlier this month, included two public opinion polls covering 1,710 South Koreans. Most South Koreans said they believe U.S. forces are important for security but also believe the 37,000 U.S. servicemembers stationed in their country may halt unification efforts with North Korea, the study said. And younger, better-educated respondents said they believe America poses a greater threat than North Korea.

Let's pause a moment and reflect on the word better-educated. In this context, it seems to me that this adjective is synonymous with head-up-their-butts or perhaps brainwashed-by-a-Leftist-agenda.

How is it in our country, as well as in Korea, the more educated you are, the less likely you are to be in touch with reality?

The United States is not preventing the reunification of North and South Korea. And I'll bet you a complete set of James Bond movies and $650,000 worth of Hennessey that anyone who thinks the US is more dangerous than Kim Jong Poofyhair obviously has not read a single thing about life in North Korea.

I'm starting to take real issue with the term better-educated. As one of Porphyrogenitus' readers astutely noted, "Waitresses and truck drivers are smart enough not to believe such patent absurdities. The amazing thing is that the majority of English and social science professors and journalists do believe them."

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March 25, 2004

FALLEN

Our post lost a soldier last week. The memorial for PFC Jason Ludlam was held today, and unfortunately I couldn't get out of work to go. My friend went, and her description of the military roll call was enough to make me cry. I hope PFC Ludlam never doubted that there are people out there who appreciate his service and honor his sacrifice.

salute.jpg

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FINALLY

Woo-hoo, we're going to Poland!

In western Europe, which hosts about 102,000 U.S. military service personnel, most of the expected reduction would come in Army forces in Germany. The Army would withdraw more than 60 percent of its 56,000 troops in Germany, home to the 1st Armored and 1st Infantry divisions, officials said, and several overlapping high-level commands would be consolidated.


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March 19, 2004

POLAND

See, this I can respect. Poland says that they're disappointed they were misled by the WMD intelligence, but they still maintain that going into Iraq was the right thing to do. They also don't blame the USA for the bad intelligence; they only lament the fact that it happened. I think some informed criticism is legitimate and I applaud Poland for remaining a strong ally.

"We will be in Iraq as long as needed to achieve the intended goals, plus one day longer," Kwasniewski told Bush, according to Siwiec.

I knew there was a reason I'm dying to visit Poland.

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ANNIVERSARY

Today is the one year anniversary of the shock and awe campaign. At the time, I was visiting my grandparents in New York while my husband stayed behind at Fort Knox. During that showdown 48 hours, my husband and I would talk on the phone and wonder what would happen. At 48 hours on the nose, he called, and we said, "Huh, I guess nothing is happening." We hung up, and that's when it started.

One year later, things have turned out better than I imagined that night last year. Enlistment into the Army has remained steady. They've darn near caught the whole deck of cards, including the father and sons who represented decades of Iraqi misery. We've rotated the entire Army in and out of Iraq; in the future it will be a shock to see someone who doesn't have a combat patch on his right shoulder. And it seems that slowly but surely the war on terror is working. Our take-it-to-the-enemy strategy has prevented another attack on American soil and scared the pants off of Libya. We've shown we're in this for the long haul, and we're not going to be distracted by weasels or donkeys.

A while back Glenn Reynolds said, "I realized after the second anniversary of September 11 that this is a marathon, not a sprint, and pacing is required."

Wise words.

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March 12, 2004

HALF

We're at the halfway mark for troop rotation in Iraq, and you'd never know it. If you don't know someone in Iraq or don't read a servicemember's blog, you would never know what's going on in a small port in Kuwait. Thousands of men are moving in and out of the most dangerous region we can imagine right now, and it's not even newsworthy. Because it works like clockwork. Sure there are some broken cots and some long lines, but so far this rotation has gone amazingly smoothly. Our military can get 'er done.

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March 10, 2004

PUZZLE

Capt. Joel Cunningham of 10th Mountain’s 2nd Battalion, 22nd Infantry Regiment is in Afghanistan right now. He characterized the war on terror in a way I've never heard before.

"It's like working a jigsaw puzzle blindfolded and drunk."

Much of what our servicemembers do is extremely difficult work. It's hard to tell who the bad guys are. It's hard to scour an entire country for one man or one WMD. And our troops often don't have all the pieces to the puzzle; I remember reading that a reporter told a LTC that Saddam had been captured just 50 miles from where they were in Iraq, but the news had not reached them yet. Each unit focuses on their individual mission to help complete the big puzzle that our Commander-in-Chief and Secretary of Defense see.

While sitting with other wives at dinner one night, one of them said something that stuck with me. She said that going to Iraq is like going to the Superbowl; it's the culmination of everything you've practiced for in your whole career. I like that analogy. Another woman remarked that every soldier she knows who is not in Iraq desperately wants to be there, which made me proud of the caliber of soldiers we have in our Army. I feel proud that my husband can be a part of the culmination of all of the Army's work, the conclusion of interactions with Iraq that have lasted for 13 years, and the beginning of a new Iraqi constitution and chapter in Iraq's history. I'm proud that he can help contribute to that puzzle in a significant way. As my friend said, "Evenings are no fun, but like you said, as sad as I am, I'm just so incredibly proud. If you think about it the guys were really lucky, I mean how many people can say they were a platoon leader during actual conflict?"

What a positive attitude: our husbands are lucky. Our soldiers are lucky to be part of something so monumental in history. When the puzzle is complete, all their work will make sense, and a beautiful new Iraq will emerge from the pieces.

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REQUIEM

Our Division lost her first soldier.

Sacred Words.

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DEMONSTRATIONS

Through our Family Readiness Group we got a list of planned demonstrations in Germany for the month of March. Dang, Germans demonstrate a lot. Most of them are anti-war with the occasional free-Tibet thrown in there, but there is one in Heidelberg on 20 March which is supposed to be pro-USA. We military folks are not allowed anywhere near these demonstrations, whether they're pro- or anti-, but if anyone else is in that area and could go, I'd love to hear about it.

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March 05, 2004

AGAIN

The worst part of this deployment is that we saw it coming for so long. We knew in July that they'd be leaving, and it was just a matter of waiting for the day. So when my husband and I were talking the week before he left, I told him my biggest fear: it's not that something will happen to him; it's that we'll survive these 14 months and he'll come home to me, and 12 months later we'll have to do it all over again. Half of the Army was in Iraq last year; the other half is there now. Who do you think is going next year? 3ID is, the same folks who were there when it all started. That means the Big Red One's slated for the next go-round. That's what causes a sinking feeling in my stomach: he's only been gone for three weeks and I already see the second deployment on the horizon.

(This depressing thought brought to you by Tim, though it's certainly not his fault. His stuff's mostly good today; I laughed out loud at the Gangs of New York and swinging a cat.)

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March 03, 2004

FOUND JODY?

I may have found a lead on why they call the man who's messin' with your wife "Jody". Based on Bunker's comment, I googled "jody" and "music" and came up with a funk song from the 70s called "Trackin' Down Jody" by Darker Shades Ltd. It's about trying to find a guy named Jody and killin' him (I don't know who he is / but all I know / Jody could be the man / livin' right next door). That could be where it came from, or it could've already been a popular expression that was made into a song. Who knows! But you can listen to the song clip here.

MORE TO GROK:

So my guess that it was already a popular expression seems to be right. Amritas dug up the real meaning, found here. Well done, linguist.

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SMACKDOWN

Reader Tracey sent a link to a wonderful article she says puts the "smackdown" on John Kerry. I agree. The author describes herself:

I'm the daughter of Lt. Col. Roger J. "Black Bart" Bartholomew, a First Air Cavalry rocket artillery helicopter pilot who was killed in Vietnam on Thanksgiving Day 1968, when I was eight years old. I'm a former journalist with a military newspaper, a U.S. Marine widow, and I am appalled at Mr. Kerry's latest assertions that our president "has reopened the wounds of Vietnam."

Anyone who has praised my strength lately needs to go read Ms. Armstrong's article. Then you can see what real military-family strength looks like.

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THANKS, TOP

Sgt Hook has a tribute to our soldiers called Who Is Defending You.
Go read it. And make sure to click on all the pictures.
"That's an order!" as he would say.

And if you've never read the story of Rick Rescorla, do so as well. He survived the battle at Ia Drang Valley in Vietnam, only to die in the WTC. He's a true American hero.

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YOO-HOO

Dear Stars and Stripes,

There are more battalions over in Kuwait than 1-77. Why are all of your articles about 1-77? Not that I have anything against them -- one of our best friends is with 1-77 -- but I'd still like to hear you talk about all of the units instead of just one. Thank you.

A jealous wife who wants to read about her husband,
Sarah

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WELCOME

In an unexpected turn of events, Porphyrogenitus has joined the Army! What an exciting new start for him, and I wish him the best of luck with his enlistment. I'm proud of you, soldier.

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