Monday, February 20, 2006

I'm Outta Here!

For now anyways. I am due R&R and I leave tonight. One helicopter flight, one charter flight and four commercial legs across the pond and down the CST for 14 glorious days of sleeping late and having beer for breakfast. Dinner with the Mrs., walks with the dog, Thomas the train with my son, gossiping about family with my sister, BBQ at night on the patio. It's just amazing how much you can look forward to those simple things.

Of course nothing stops here. I have been scurrying about trying to get my crew ready for their duties while I am gone. Thank God that my XO is as strong as he is. He is a retired NCO and is a good, loyal, and dependable leader who lets nothing get by him. I can leave and not worry knowing that he takes care of business.

I am traveling with two friends and we have planned a diversion to check out the indoor ski place in Dubai. I don't even know the real name of it yet, I just know that I want sticks on my feet and cold wind in my face. I don't care if it is in Dubai, if it has snow, I go!

Dubai is god awful expensive though. We had to really search to find hotel rooms for under $300.00 a night. Even the Sheraton and Marriott are that expensive. We are staying at an Indian owned 3 star for the bucket rate of $108.00 per night. Such a deal!

I have been lucky and had a couple of breaks this rotation but the other two have the "120 day stare" and need a beer. I mean they REALLY need a beer. They are both driving me nutty and if they don't get out of here I may shoot them myself.

I will buy the first round. Once we get to the hotel I will quote that wise old soothsayer Jimmy Buffet by yelling, "The Tiki Bar is OPEN!"

Thursday, February 16, 2006

A Khaki World

This morning one of the Filipina girls who cleans around here asked if she could touch my hair. While this sounds odd at first you have to understand that we are like an Alien species to some of these folks from rural areas of the PI. Most of them had never had a lot of contact with Americans before they came over here. There was nothing sexual about this, just curiosity. They are almost childlike sometimes with the questions they ask and the way they act.

I let her touch it. She then rubbed her hands through it. My short vertical nubs of hair stay soft because my wife taught me how to use conditioner. The girl said,"Oh sir, it is so nice and I like the color, same your pants."

I am wearing Khaki pants. I always wear Khaki pants. I have Khaki shirts, t shirts, socks, boots, jackets, shirts, and now my hair is Khaki. The earth here is Khaki colored, so are the vehicles. They were splattered with mud that has since dried a nice Khaki color. The tactical vehicles are all Khaki colored. Every M1A1, Bradley, truck, track, etc. is Khaki colored. The flight suits for the aviators are Khaki. All the buildings are Khaki colored. My bedspread and sheets are Khaki. Even the moon is Khaki colored. The wind blows up dust clouds which colorize the moon and stars like one of those cheap plastic contraptions they sold in the 60s to turn your B&W TV into a "Color" set. With all this Khaki I now have the notion that I have Khaki hair too.

I miss the colors of the world, especially green. There is nothing here that is green save some water, the black-green helicopters, and the new light green/Khaki digpixel ACUs the troops are now wearing. The sparse vegetation is grayish-green or some other odd color. There are no bright, glowing greens, no luminescent comforting greens. There is no blue water. The rivers are a dark, dank, putrid mix of dark green and brown. The ponds are brown or black. Some of the canals are blue but not many and you can only see those from the air. The people don't wear bright colors. It seems that they downplay the color in an effort to avoid anyone noticing them. I'm not sure if that is cultural or a leftover from Saddamism. Who would want the Baath Party to notice them?

The only things brightly colored here are the inside of the DFACs and the MWR centers. Maybe that is why we get so talkative in the DFAC. Maybe it is not the ancient ritual of breaking bread. Maybe it is the ability to let your guard down a bit. The colors and the noise are a reasurance that we are safe for a while and that we actually remember our former, normal lives.

I'll return home one day and this sense of isolation, weariness, and dreariness will go away. I hope so but at the same time I hope I never lose some of the things I have discovered about myself over here. I will remember the Khaki World and I will tell my son about it. I will remember those who were with me both good and bad. Once I get back to that world I may never wear Khaki again. I may but then again maybe it will provide with a different sense of comfort as a reminder. I will always know that no matter what happens in my life in the land of the big PX it is a minor issue compared to the challenges we have faced here.

The Khaki World has forced me to look inward at myself and face some demons. I has also forced me to see what I am succesful at too and to focus on that path. Like many people in many campaigns I can't wait for this to all be over but at the same time I would not trade my experiences for anything. I will return to the world of color but the Khaki world will always be with me.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Islamic Spam

I opened my email yesterday and found this little jewel inside. I don't know the person who sent it is but it could have been any number of Iraqis that I do business with. The Jordanians, Kuwaitis, and Emiratis I deal with are secular and above the fray but this guy obvisously can't spell for beans and wants to make sure that we infidels get the word of Allah.

Sorry buddy. The tent revivals my grandmother drug me to did not work, vacation bible school did not work, classes in philosophy did not work, and experimental drugs did not work. I don't believe anything dogmatic invented by some tribe of wandering bedouins developed 3000, 2000, 1000, or 600 years ago to try and make sense of why they lived in such a miserable place.

I also cannot condone getting so fired up about this entire mess. These people just want a reason to rant and rave. More war is coming and it is being brought by them. Read this and you will get a 1st person view of theri side of it.

HI MY FREINDS HELLO .One of the greatest things that makes a Muslim proud is his belief and love of the Messenger, sallallaahu'alayhi wa sallam (may Allaah exalt his mention). Muslims believe in all the Messengers and theProphets, may Allaah exalt their mention, and do not distinguish between any of them -- except that our Prophet Muhammad, sallallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam, is the last and final messenger and prophet, and he the first one for whom the gates of Paradise will be opened; belief in him, sallallaahu \'alayhi wasallam, is the way to Paradise, as no one among those who were born after his prophethood, will be permitted entry (i.e. to Paradise) unless they had believed in him, sallallaahu \'alayhi wa sallam.please tell any one you know. What can one say in response to the sarcastic caricatures published in the Jyllands Posten newspaper from Denmark, in its issue dated Tuesday, September 30th 2005? Whom was this newspaper mocking? It was mocking the greatest man ever created ... the leader of all the Prophets, sallallaahu \'alayhi wa sallam. They featured evil, shameless images of him, sallallaahu\'alayhi wa sallam, as shameless as any disbeliever's imagination can be.

OK. There are some cartoons that were run 5 friggin months ago in a small newspaper in a small country that is best known for making porno and cheese. Let's act like Chicago Bulls fans and burn some shit! I love the last line about the imagination of the shamless disbeliever. I saw the cartoons and I can tell you that my imagination is a lot more creative than theirs!

Saturday, February 11, 2006

I couldn't have said it any better

Every once in a while you get a hold of a rant that is just so much better than anything you can write youself and this is one of them. Thanks goes to my friend "Mighty Fine Dodge" for sending this on to me.

If you're looking for a laugh, this ain't it. This was reprinted in today's Arizona Republic and re-titled ''Ideas as Weapons of War''.February 9, 2006 (Mighty Fine)

Drafting Hitler By DAVID BROOKS

You want us to know how you feel. You in the Arab European League published a cartoon of Hitler in bed with Anne Frank so we in the West would understand how offended you were by those Danish cartoons. You at the Iranian newspaper Hamshahri are holding a Holocaust cartoon contest so we'll also know how you feel.

Well, I saw the Hitler-Anne Frank cartoon: the two have just had sex and Hitler says to her, "Write this one in your diary, Anne." But I still don't know how you feel. I still don't feel as if I should burn embassies or behead people or call on God or bin Laden to exterminate my foes. I still don't feel your rage. I don't feel threatened by a sophomoric cartoon, even one as tasteless as that one.

At first I sympathized with your anger at the Danish cartoons because it's impolite to trample on other people's religious symbols. But as the rage spread and the issue grew more cosmic, many of us in the West were reminded of how vast the chasm is between you and us. There was more talk than ever about a clash of civilizations. We don't just have different ideas; we have a different relationship to ideas.

We in the West were born into a world that reflects the legacy of Socrates and the agora. In our world, images, statistics and arguments swarm around from all directions. There are movies and blogs, books and sermons. There's the profound and the vulgar, the high and the low.

In our world we spend our time sifting and measuring, throwing away the dumb and offensive, e-mailing the smart and the incisive. We aim, in Michael Oakeshott's words, to live amid the
conversation ­ "an endless unrehearsed intellectual adventure in which, in imagination, we enter a variety of modes of understanding the world and ourselves and are not disconcerted by the differences or dismayed by the inconclusiveness of it all."We believe in progress and in personal growth. By swimming in this flurry of perspectives, by facing unpleasant facts, we try to come closer and closer to understanding.

But you have a different way. When I say you, I don't mean you Muslims. I don't mean you genuine Islamic scholars and learners. I mean you Islamists. I mean you young men who were well educated in the West, but who have retreated in disgust from the inconclusiveness and chaos of our conversation. You've retreated from the agora into an exaggerated version of Muslim purity.Y

ou frame the contrast between your\n world and our world more bluntly than we outsiders would ever dare to. In London the protesters held signs reading "Freedom Go to Hell," "Exterminate Those Who Mock Islam," "Be Prepared for the Real Holocaust" and "Europe You Will Pay, Your 9/11 Is on the Way." In Copenhagen, an imam declared, "In the West, freedom of speech is sacred; to us, the prophet is sacred" ­ as if the two were necessarily opposed.

Our mind-set is progressive and rational. Your mind-set is pre-Enlightenment and mythological. In your worldview, history doesn't move forward through gradual understanding. In your worldview, history is resolved during the apocalyptic conflict between the supernaturally pure jihadist and the supernaturally evil Jew.

You seize on any shred ­even a months-old cartoon from an obscure Danish paper ­ to prove to yourself that the Jew and the crusader are on the offensive, that the apocalyptic confrontation is at hand. You invent primitive stories ­ like the one about Jews who kill children for their blood ­ to reinforce your image of Jewish evil. You deny the Holocaust because if the Jews were as powerful as you say, they would never have allowed it to happen.

In my world, people search for truth in their own diverse ways. In your world, the faithful and the infidel battle for survival, and words and ideas and cartoons are nothing more than weapons in that war. So, of course, what started in Denmark ended up for you with Hitler, the Holocaust and the Jew. But in your overreaction this past week, your defensiveness is showing. Democracy is coming to your region, and democracy brings the conversation. Mainstream leaders like Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani are embracing democracy and denouncing your riots as "misguided and oppressive.".

You fundamentalists have turned yourselves into a superpower of dysfunction, demanding our attention week after week. But it is hard to intimidate people forever into silence, to bottle up the conversation, to lock the world into an epic war only you want. While I don't share your rage, I do understand your panic.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

So a reporter was injured and that means....??????

I am concerned about Bob Woodruff. I am concerned that he is being used as a tool of the left to drum up even more hysteria about the situation over here. Sure, I feel bad for him and his family but no more so or less than I do for ANY Soldier, Sailor, Marine, or Airman who has been injured or killed. Why is this news but the deaths of three Iraqi Soldiers who were killed in almost the exact same spot just yesterday any less newsworthy?

What the hell is wrong with the media? I support the media and their right to publish opinion but they have skewed this to slant so far towards a political agenda as to make themselves completely unobjective and untrustworthy. I support the role of the media to REPORT but am outraged when they attempt to slant or color the news to suit the agenda of a poltical viewoint.

Maybe I am naive. Maybe I remember all the lessons about objectivity that were pounded in my brain in Journalism class. Maybe I am angry at the press for not helping the situation. Maybe I am angry because I see a different war. Maybe I am angry because I am a patriot. I don't fully understand the machinations of the MSM but I do know that they are not popular with the troops and that most of us feel like the are a 5th column instead of the 5th Estate.

For a good report on the Bob Woodruff situation here is a link to Ollie North's opinion. Ollie may be a lot of things but he is very, very sharp and a good writer.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

For all you Insomniacs

All of us, well just about all of us, use continuing education as a means of advancement or just to stay on top of our chosen professions. I made a career change a few years back when I started this "Be the Army's tail" task and had to do some rapid catch up. Like a lot of people I am self taught in many areas.

I decided I needed to read more official books, regulations, articles, etc about the Army and have muddled through some incredibly boring stuff. It really is the cure for Insomnia. Keep a copy of TB Med 530 by your bedside and read up on water and food handling. Try the QASUS manual on ammo storage and handling or my new favorite, the "Combat Service Support Guide, 4th Edition".

If you have trouble sleeping forget about pills. Just get down to your local PX or gubment' book store and pick one up. It knocks me out every night. At this rate I may be finished with it by the end of the year!

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Islamic Outrage

Cartoons. Friggin cartoons. People wonder why we can't have meaningful dialoge with the insurgents. Here is a prime example. 1 billion uneducated, fanatical, fatalistic people willing to die for their .......religion. Yeah, over a cartoon. How many times have you seen the Christian God, Jesus, Buddha, Shiva, and other gods parodied? How many times have you seen something that is explicitly against your religious scruples and been made angry? Did you riot? Did you burn a building with innocent people inside? Did you state that they all deserved to die?

I think not. A true "religion of peace" would not allow that. There are so many contradictions in Islam that they make the Mormons look sagacious and wise. I know that by our incessant pandering to the leaders of this morass we just make it linger. Making statements like those from the US government give them the upper hand. Saying that it is wrong to hurt their feelings is BS. They try to kill my friends every day. We try to kill them. I could give a damn about their feelings. This is a war. Did we make apologies to the Japanese after Pearl Harbor? Hell no, we rallied and kicked their ass. That is what we have to continue to do now. Have we forgotten the two fisted sucker punch we took in 2001?

I wish our press had the big brass ones that the New Zealand press does. They came out and ran the cartoons and said that no one will tell them what they can and cannot print. Isn't that one of the foundations of our own revolution? Did we not fight, bleed, and die for freedom of speech and press?

Props to the Prime Minister of Denmark. He has not wavered so far. He knows this is a king sized mess but has not backed off about press freedom. Just as the press has the freedom to not agree with the war or the government, they must also be allowed to disagree with religions.

The ONLY thing that will change all of this is education and economic development. I have been to many Muslim countries and I can tell you straight up that the ones with secular goverment and good educational systems don't have these riots. They have fringe elements but not whole populations dedicated to wiping out or burning off of anything they deem to be offensive to their religion.

I read yesterday that this war is going to be one of the Long Wars. The 100 years war, 30 years war, Napoleonic Wars, Japanese-Chinese war were all long wars as were several of the crusades. A long war runs over generations. This is one. This will not stop until we are all dead or converted, they are all dead or converted, or we educate and develop.

This is why the fight here is so important. If we succeed here, we can succeed anywhere and we give hope to those who understand what we are trying to do. If we fail our way of life and the world as we know and hope for are in for a long,long struggle against an intransigent enemy dedicated to our destruction. I don't know about you but Democracy and a free press sound more comforting than theological dictatorship.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Michael Yon for a Pulitzer Prize

My friend and fellow Iraqi resident Dave from daves-not-here turned me on to Micahel Yon a few weeks back. I wished I had been reading him before. This is hands down the best blog out there from Iraq. Michael tells the absolute truth and does not sugar coat or sentimentalize anything. I read today that Michael is being promoted as a Pultizer Prize nominee by Michelle Malkin and several other serious journalists. He deserves it. I have been devouring his past posts and just shaking my head at his real life depiction of our fighting troops, the Iraqis they fight, and the Iraqis they love. It is a staggering and emotional roller coaster ride to read his work. He deserves consideration for this prize but probably won't even be allowed to be on the official nominee list as he was not "Published in an American Newspaper."

Blogs are in fact the newspapers of the future. We each publish our own editorials every day into cyberspace for those who care to read. If you only have time to read one blog a day Michael Yon's is the one to read. I feel like he is my battle buddy and I have never met him.

I have his blog link on my sidebar and here is his webpage link:
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