I've made my move, and just got my computer set up and online. Regular blogging will commence again after Christmas.
Thanks to all readers for their patience!
Merry Christmas to all celebrants!
"We should invade their countries, kill their leaders, and convert them to Christianity."
-- Ann Coulter, September 12, 2001
I spent yesterday with a Pennsylvania Army National Guard Armor Company. They got here in March, and were issued HUMMV’s and given a presto-chango “now you are MP’s” course. They are on the road everyday. They’ve lost some guys. They are harder than a whore’s heart, let me tell you. They have a look in their eye only months of close combat can make. Toss out what ever idea of “National Guard” may be in your mind. These boys are 100% business, and I can’t tell you proud of them I am.
Every thing is free. There is a river on money flowing through this place. Equipment, food, houses, SUV’s, guns, ammo. Want one? Come on down. You don’t have to sign for dick.
I’m gonna have “Hodgie” (quasi-demeaning name given to local Iraqis who work on the camp) build me an armoire and a credenza out of pallet lumber for my tent. You have Pakistani’s sweeping the street, Filipinos running a PX out of the half of the Republican Guard Barracks that wasn’t caved in from a bomb. You have the Bangladeshi’s pumping the shitters. Iraqi Muslims serving me bacon in the morning. I went out and shot some captured AK-47’s and a Russian-made machine gun yesterday because we were bored.
In a combat zone, everywhere you go is a range. The air reeks of…well, everything. Gun smoke, shit, diesel fuel, burning of every thing, buildings, cars, funk of every description. I go out on the one of the palace balconies at night about five stories up in the air, and watch the air strikes, and drink a soda of some sort (I can’t read the Arabic label) and the air smells fresh, with a hint of spice in it. I think its all the date palms. Kate, the filth here would drive you mad. You think beach sand and mildewed salt air pissed you off? Here, you would need to be sedated.
Everyone works 12/12 7 days a week. You get a half-day once a week. It doesn’t matter really. No one looks at the clock. Pretty soon, you wonder what day it is.
I’ve never been so professionally happy in my life. I am so thankful to be here. If it weren’t for missing the wife and boys, I’d stay here as long as I can. There is so much going on, so much to do, so many different things to get involved in it makes you dizzy. There’s a sign when you walk into the palace that says: “Hell, theres no rules here! We’re trying to accomplish something. - Thomas Edison.” Couldn’t be more true.
I’m convinced, army regulations and doctrine are nothing more than things designed to occupy the time of soldiers who aren’t fighting in a war, because here there are no rules: just do what ever you think needs to be done, and let your conscience be your guide. Like the signs Joes put on the back of their HUMMV’s in Arabic that say, “If you try and pass this convoy, you will be shot.”
You know what the “approved” speed limit is for HUMMV’s while on missions? As fast as it will go. On a cool day, when you don’t have to worry about the engine overheating, it will do 80. They drive them that fast - and faster - every day. Makes it real hard to hit one with an IED. In peace time, nothing we do in the Army is really very hard – we just work at making it hard so we have something to do. Not any more.
This is Dodge City in the 1870’s. The attitude is, “Have gun, will travel.” Watch the news. You’ll see what I mean. All this means is people’s creative side comes out. What a sight on such a huge scale! Everyone just looking for what makes sense, and then doing it. I’m awe struck most of the time. Remember what Al Capone said, and it will help you understand the kind of mission we’re doing: “A kind word and a gun goes farther than just a kind word.”
Checked into the death of [his wife’s] friend, Linda Tarrango-Greise [who was also deployed to Iraq]. I got a hold of the official report and pictures. It’s classified. I can tell you her unit did everything right. No one screwed up. They were on a by-pass road straight West of Samarra because of the threat level on the main route through town. They had done the right planning. The QRF (Quick Reaction Force) was real fast in getting there, so was MEDEVAC. They saved the kid that was in the back of her HUMMV. The IED went off very close to her vehicle. She didn’t feel a thing. She was gone in the blink of an eye. Lets just say the QRF response was swift and sure. Those who did it were found shortly afterwards, and were dealt with most harshly. Nuff said.
John Podhoretz nails it today in the New York Post, where he argues that the left doesn't believe in anything overseas anymore besides despair. Paul Johnson made a related point in a piece for us a while ago--that the left's new faith, now that socialism has died, is pessimism. I'm struck by this when I'm on college campuses. I want to say to these kids (and professors), “OK, you think Bush's foreign policy is a disaster, but what do you believe, what's the alternative, what's your vision?” There is none. These people believe in nothing. They aren't even soft-headed idealists anymore because Bush's idealistic rhetoric has prompted them to reject idealism. All they have is a smug faith in American failure, that whatever we do--literally whatever we do: whether its militaristic or altruistic or something in between--is wrong and doomed to fail.Just as "Fat, drunk, and stupid" is no way to go through life, neither is "pessimistic".