The Operators

Michael Hastings covers the unwinnable Afghanistan.

Recently my buddy clued me into to another light colonel who “Hackworthed” or sacrificed his career in the hopes of raising consciousness about an unwinnable fight.  LT. COL Daniel L. Davis wrote a scathing assessment of the War in Afghanistan as the conflict pushes steadily into its second decade. Sadly, I believe the brass has learned from the mistakes of how it handled the public face of wars since Vietnam. By fostering an all-volunteer force, our country has effectively fostered a Solider Caste, ensuring that the effects of war are neigh invisible to the broader public. Political sentiment and the pure ignorance that is “American Exceptionalism” keeps any criticism of the war from being voiced. To do so is political suicide. Even Obama, who has handled the war like the smelly bag of trash it is, (a thing to be removed as soon as possible) has to step lightly through a minefield of critics to get out to the dumpster.

The most common response I get from friends outside the Army when the subject of Afghanistan arises is usually a variation of “I didn’t know we were still there”. The Army, like always, is almost single minded in its focus, the Army wants to win. The military is a very goal centric organization that places mission accomplishment as its number one priority.

We are told that the Surge and Counter Insurgency won the Iraq War, beat terrorism, and that it will soon be the same in Afghanistan.

However modern history does not jibe with the reality of twenty first century warfare. [Read more…]

Support our Troops Unless…

RBB experiences even more controversy.

“Support our Troops” in a saying that I personally don’t like. I just am not a big bumper sticker person, though I do have one simple U.S. Army star stuck to my car expressly for the purpose of getting out of the occasional speeding ticket. While I do agree with the sentiment behind “Supporting the Troops,” I think that it is used far too often in common discourse. Just like saying “bless you” is almost reactionary for most people when they witness someone sneeze, people will spout something to the effect of “support our troops” when they see Soldiers, it has become almost mandatory.

I think that because it is overused so much, “support our troops” is losing the sincerity behind the thought. Now normally I base this on my slightly nihilistic and narcissistic worldview but, today I have evidence and my evidence is Rock Beyond Belief.

Recently, FOX News reporter Todd Starnes conducted an interview with FTB’s own Justin Griffith. The issue was that Todd saw an opening for a story in a post Justin made on the Rock Beyond Belief website. To introduce the band Aiden, Justin posted one of their music videos, Hysteria, and called it a kick ass “atheist anthem.” The Fox News reporter had his opening, if that was the type of music going on at RBB then a  controversy would erupt, since as we all know Heavy Metal videos are NEVER a controversial art form, EVER. But after conducting the above interview with Justin, Todd on some level must have known that the story was not a homerun. After all the genesis of this event was Justin, a Soldier who we must, of course, support and who is more than a little accustomed to dealing with rules and regulations.

Justin made it absolutely clear that Aiden, like all other performers at the event, would adhere to a standard of family friendly content. But, I guess deadlines are deadlines and Todd ran his story anyway. Soon I watched as people did the ultimate American sin, they shit on Soldiers. [Read more…]

Last Flight Out

The last American Military forces* depart Iraq.

December 17th marked the last flight and convoy of American military forces leaving Iraq, marking the end to kinetic military action in America’s foreseeable relationship with Iraq.

It also brings the somber news of the last KIA of an American Soldier in the war, Spec. David Emanuel Hickman was killed on 14 November by an IED in Baghdad, marking the 4,474th name to be added to the war memorial in Kirkuk, Iraq. [Read more…]

Off to Port

So Kuwait is overloaded with Soldiers. So many that the handful of wireless routers on this camp are overloaded and webpages load at paint drying speed. Even logging on FtB takes a good twenty minutes.

The slow internet has me tearing my hair out (if I had hair long enough to tear out), so I am going to take a break for the next week until I head down south to the port. From what I hear there will be some extra bandwidth there and not so many thousands of people to hog it all. I am a digital person and without my intertubes I am withering.

Till then, I am gonna catch up on all the shows I missed over the last few months and enjoy sleeping in conditions that the Department of Corrections considers cruel and unusual punishment. Damn, I hate that I love my job!

The Art of War

Website collects pictures, port-a-john scrawls, and art from a decade of war.

Every war has its art. Farewells to friends, celebrations of victory, escapes from reality, and bitching about the boss are common subjects. Art in war is a coping mechanism, a way to express feelings that are difficult to talk about in the American warrior caste. Graffiti of War, is a project to preserve some of my generations conflict art, works by American Soldiers and civilians, Coalition partners, and the citizens and Soldiers of Iraq and Afghanistan. [Read more…]

Meet Virginia

I am now out of Iraq! For the next few weeks I will be at lovely Camp Virginia as the pullout from Iraq continues at a breakneck pace. Best of all, this place has a Starbucks, so I know America is just a step away. Once I figure out my work schedule here and catch up on some reading over the intertubes, posts will resume.

SSSD is in Effect

Moving around again.

 

Adios Kirkuk, hello redacted destination. I will be moving to my next base over the next few days and will be disconnected from the intertubes. I have no idea what  internet options are available at the next stop or how long I will be there. Last time I asked my XO when I would go home, the answer was “When I tell you when you can,” so I have a sneaking suspicion that I will be around until all of the thousands of tons of army equipment are out of theater. So it might be a while. Worst case, I will be sending my updates and articles to someone who can post them here for me. [Read more…]