December 26, 2006


Hahahahaha! All ACU wearers have to go right now and see this photo at Jack Army!

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December 11, 2006


The waves of PCS nausea are starting to wash over me.

My husband still doesn't have orders, but we're about 95% sure things will work themselves out soon. His control branch has been changed on his ORB to Civil Affairs, but we're waiting for that to trickle into orders. However, it was enough to put a silly grin on my husband's face, since he's been waiting for this day for over a year. Still, we might be the only couple in the history of Armydom who PCSes without orders. It could happen.

We leave on Wednesday, move in our house on Thursday, get our household goods on Friday, and get cable and internet on Saturday. What does your week look like?

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December 10, 2006


Political Critic posts a reaction to the Iraq Study Group. In it, he says

The ISG's second point focuses on the training of the Iraqi military, which should be the main focus. Unfortunately, the Iraqi military has not been trained properly for the 3+ years that we've been there and that is not addressed. Apparently, the ISG believes that all of a sudden the Iraqi military will get trained exponentially faster and before the American forces leave. The report is correct to focus on the training, but makes no mention of how to stop the corruption, infiltration, and safety issues that they face.

I think this is an easy complaint to make -- "the Iraqi military has not been trained properly" -- but proposals on how to be more efficient are hard to come by.

I've spent a lot of time around soldiers who've been to Iraq, and I've heard lots of stories about training Iraqi soldiers. That was one of the primary missions of my husband's brigade as far back as early 2004. Everywhere they went, Iraqis went with them. Everything they did, Iraqis were involved. I hate when politicians say that we'd be able to pull out of Iraq if we'd just concentrate on training Iraqis. We've been doing that since day one.

However, training Iraqis is not just a matter of teaching them to shoot and how to go on raids. Heck, I've heard that's nothing to sneeze at in and of itself: when you're trying to teach someone who thinks that bullets go wherever Allah wills them to go, it can apparently be a pain in the neck to get them to aim. And that's the larger point of training Iraqis: you're teaching culture as much as military training.

I heard a story about the Iraqi police, who proudly bragged that they had taken a suspect into their station and beaten him all night long. They were proud, telling the Americans because they thought that they had done something good. Look, we're keeping order! The Americans didn't know what to do except shake their head and try to explain why this was not a good thing.

In order to teach someone to stand up and fight for his own country, you have to teach him to love his country above everything else. How do you teach that? All the target practice in the world can't stop "corruption, infiltration, and safety issues." You can't teach Iraqis to be Americans, to all of a sudden erase decades (centuries?) of ingrained tribalism and mores and have them care about the same things we care about. It's like we're looking at this through the lens of our own history: settlers came to the US and learned to live in religious harmony and value freedom and democracy over everything, so why can't you? If we just teach them to use a rifle, then they'll rise up like colonial Americans did, right? But it's not that simple. We can't force them to want the same things early Americans wanted. That's the problem with this so-called Bush Doctrine, which was a noble idea because we Americans have been taught from birth that all men want to live free. But unfortunately we tried to free people who think sharia is the way to go. Just teaching them to raid a house and hunt for IEDs is not going to fix the underlying issues in their society.

I think this talk of training Iraqis has been grossly oversimplified in every discussion I've ever heard about it, except for the soldiers who've actually had to try to do it.

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December 05, 2006


What happens when they pack you out for a PCS is that invariably you will start to have desires for belongings you haven't looked at in years. The minute your stuff goes in boxes, you'll find yourself saying something like, "Honey, remember that Korean woman I taught English to five years ago? No? Well, when we get home I'll show you a picture. Oh wait. Nevermind." All of a sudden you'll have indescribable urges to look up the Whiskey Rebellion in your old history textbook, a book you haven't touched in ten years. It never fails, every PCS.

I miss my stuff already.

Oooh, and we had female movers. Heavenly. Male movers want you out of their way so they can do their job as quickly as possible. Female movers ask you questions about how you want something packed, whether you actually meant to leave this item out to take with you, and so on. All my worries dissipated when women walked through the front door.

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