Friday, October 27, 2006

All You Ever Wanted To Know And More

So here it is in all it's glorious longness. I was vain enough to interview myself and will probably have other milbloggers thinking about me as they always have: "Yeah he is all right I guess but I think he is stuck on himself." I hope you enjoy.

From your observations do the Iraqi people have the ability, desire, and personal integrity to govern themselves totally on their own?

This is a tough question to answer right now. I in no way pretend to have all the answers but I will do my best to explain how I feel about the Iraqis ability to govern themselves. I do not believe they are ready to govern themselves in a way similar to how we do in America. I believe there is a serious lack of education in Iraq among the general public and this would hamper their ability to govern themselves in such a way that we would see as adequate. There are some decent people here and I have met several myself but on the larger scale there are too many problems with this country right now for Iraqis to govern completely on their own. With Iranian influence, fear of al qaeda, and a general dislike between Sunnis and Shias, Arabs and Kurds, and Muslims and Christians, I do not believe everyone would be treated equal under an Iraqi leadership. Without equal treatment for all and without a competent army and police force many problems would arise that we can only guess at right now.

However, I believe given time and an understanding by the world at large that "new" countries will make mistakes in the early stages of government I think the Iraqis would figure things out over time. I do believe it will take them longer than most but then again we didn't figure things out ourselves for quite some time.

How does your experience in Iraq comport with U.S. media accounts of the situation over there? What are the gaps in information that we're not getting?

I have written about the media many times and don't have much new to say on the subject but I do not believe the MSM presents the whole picture of Iraq. If the world only sees the carnage in Iraq then the bigger picture certainly is not making it out. There are many cities here that are making great strides and their efforts often go unreported. If the media really want to get the big picture across they do not need to be afraid to report on positive stories. I understand that it can sometimes be hard for them to travel around and accurately gauge the general feel in Iraq but I believe it is their job and if they want to be taken seriously they need to make an effort.

The gaps in info can often be found in the writings of milbloggers like Bill Roggio, Michael Yon, Buck Sargent at American Citizen Soldier, and writers who travel to Iraq like Victor Davis Hanson. Those who come to Iraq in search of the truth will find it and if they don't have stings attached such as many reporters with major companies do, I think it will be easier for them to tell it like it is.

How do you gauge the attitude of the Iraqis toward Americans? Are most of them hostile and uncooperative?

I do not want to pigeonhole all Iraqis so I can only talk about the ones I have come in contact with. The majority of Iraqis I have been around have been hesitant at first in their dealings with Americans but once they come to know us they open up and are mainly friendly with us. Of course some of them will not want to deal with us and will be uncooperative as a result but I don't believe this sentiment runs throughout Iraq. The Iraqis I have been around, Iraqi army, police, and translators have all had a somewhat positive attitude about the direction their country is taking. Of course they probably had a positive attitude towards Americans prior to my meeting them hence their joining in the fight so my view is somewhat skewed.

What is the mindset of our troops in Iraq? Are they disturbed by the naysaying from some quarters about the war? How do they feel about being there and possibly returning later?

The mindset of our troops here is probably not what most Americans think it would be. Many soldiers are not politically minded and don't give much thought as to why they are here or what the consequences of their actions are. However, with that said there are still idealistic soldiers who understand the fight they are in and are doing their best to win the fight against terrorists who want to see America fail. I for one am one of those soldiers and know several others who share the same sentiment.

As far as returning later I would say most soldiers have accepted it. Whether or not they are happy about it is a different question but there still are a majority of soldiers reenlisting. There are also soldiers who continually volunteer to come back. For instance there are a couple of soldiers in my unit who will be volunteering for a third tour as soon as they can. These guys might just be war junkies but they do feel that they are doing something positive with their lives so their motivation isn't all bad.

What do you look forward to MOST about getting home?

Good question. I think just getting on with life. I do want to get back to reality and enjoy some of my twenties in the states though. That will probably be good enough.

What will you miss the most about Iraq?

Making a difference I suppose. Being here makes us feel like we are a part of something bigger than ourselves. It gives us an outlook on life that many kids our age back home don't have and I think when I get back to the real world I will miss having so much in common with such a tight group of people. Everyone loves being part of a community.

What would you say is the most challenging task you have faced to make a difference since you have been there?

Making it through the monotony of army life. It isn't all action over here as any soldier could tell you and there is quite a bit of down time (depending on your job that is). Added with the BS that we have to deal with apart from our jobs and spending a year here can be a trying experience.

What are your plans after you get back, short term and for the future?

First I plan on finishing up my undergraduate studies which I should do come summer time and then possibly enrolling in law school. I don't want to be a lawyer but do see myself making an attempt at politics later on down the road. I want to make a difference in this world and I think I am better equipped to do that outside of the military. Now if I can just find some people to vote for me then it might make things easier.

How has the second tour in Iraq changed your life? For better? For more difficult?

I am lucky not to have a family of my own back home or this second deployment would have been much more difficult. I admire the men and women who can have a family back home and come over here and serve honorably (there is a difference between simply coming here and serving honorably). I for one would never want to have to do it but am thankful for those who do. As far as changing my life I suppose that is has given me a better outlook on the world that I wouldn't have had if I would have just stayed in the states and went about my own business. I was able to travel at a young age and be a part of something that I consider great, one that history will look back favorably upon, and am thankful for the opportunity to have been able to help out people in need. I believe this last deployment helped me grow up in a way I wouldn't have been able to do otherwise. I also saved a good it of money that will come in handy later on down the road.

Who are some of your heroes? (famous, not famous, historical, not historical, family, military or a colleague?)

I don't have any specific heroes but I do find heroic those who can stick with it when things get rough. I admire hard work and dedication but as far as heroes I don't look to any one person. All human beings have faults so while I might pick and choose traits to emulate from certain notable people I don't find myself standing in awe of anyone.

Did you meet any Iraqis who were Christians and did you have a chance to discuss it with them?

To my knowledge I never met and Iraqi Christian.

As non-military, what is the one or two things that we can do (besides not asking stupid questions!:) for (the collective) you as you return? Handshake and a thank-you? Free meal at a restaurant? Etc

I might catch some flak for saying this but soldiers don't need free stuff, although it is nice once in awhile, but rather, just a handshake and an expression of sincere thanks. If you say something like "Thank you for taking the time out of your life to help others and make the world a safer place" that would be great. We know many people support us and we do hear about it.

What would you consider your most important accomplishment as a Soldier during both tours of Iraq?

That is a tough question because I did so many important things in Iraq. There was the time I performed Chinese Fire Drills around my truck as a friend and I were traveling 55 mph down the road, then there was the time I went tubing with some Australians in the Euphrates, of course the time I was gunning naked in a turret in 40 degree weather...oh there are so many. If I was to pick one though I guess it would have to be keeping my sanity intact after all the crap I have had to deal with.

I wonder, assuming in the next few years you settle down with Mrs TF Boggs and in a few more years have little TF Boggers and TF Boggettes, how do you think (when they are old enough) a discussion about the work dad did in freeing and securing Iraq will go? And what do you see Iraq looking like when you have that discussion?

I guess that all depends on whether or not my kids are child prodigies. If they are then I will probably tell them before they hit high school and become too smart for my lies but if they aren't then probably when their teachers start telling them about the history of the Iraq war according to CNN. By that time I believe Iraq will have some form of functioning government that is able to supply decent water, decent electricity, and basic sanitation services for their people. I think that terrorism will have died down to a very small degree but will not be completely gone. They will be about as good as an ally as France is to us but will be a harmless country to the world. Basically I see them not being where we would like them to be but in a place that we can settle for.

What did one snowman say to the other?

Is that a carrot in your pocket or did you just forget to put your nose on today?

Why did you go into the Reserves or is it National Guard and not on active duty? Is it a fear of commitment? Also, what is your beef with the 101st?

I joined the army reserves because I wanted to continue to attend college while serving at the same time. I figured I would be deployed since I joined after 9/11 so it wasn't a fear of commitment. The active duty life never really appealed to me, nothing against those who choose it though. I am glad that there are people who want to be in the military for a career it was just never for me. As far as the 101st goes I have nothing against them I just mentioned in my last post that I don't believe they did a very good job securing Baghdad but that belief comes from what I have heard and read so I might be way off the mark. (I am assuming by your name that you were a rakkasan, am I right?)

What do you think about the lancet study claiming 650,000 deaths since the war began?

I apologize for not having read about the study but I did hear it mentioned several times. I don't buy into it but that is just my opinion so take it for what it is worth. I think if 650,000 people really died since 2003 I would have seen a lot more dead people than I did. 650,000 people don't exactly disappear.

When are we gonna have some beers?

As far as buying me some beers I am all for it just send me a plane ticket and I'll be out for the free beer as soon as I can. That goes for anyone, if you want to buy me beer just send me a plane ticket to where you are and I'll hop on the next plane. But seriously as soon as I can make it out your way Rick you can buy all the beer you want.

How do the Iraqis you work with see the situation? Do they speak of the violence afflicting parts of their country?

They honestly don't talk about it too much. They occasionally mention that one place or another is dangerous and they would die if they went there (because of their affiliation with us and the Iraqi army). They never really get into the meaning of it all and keep it really surface level. I imagine a lot of this is simply because of the language barrier but I can tell on their faces that it distresses them and they are concerned about their country.

If so, do they offer any opinions/ideas on how to turn the tide?

The only Iraqi I talked with that offered ideas on how to turn the tide was the general I interviewed a few months back. He said that the men of Iraq need to step up and secure their own country and if they don't nothing will ever change. He also said that they need to be willing to sacrifice their time and effort to better their country for the future and I imagine if more Iraqi men felt like him then things would slowly but surely change.

I want to know what would you say to the Americans who have become indifferent to our returning troops?

I would say that they are so wrapped up in their own lives and sick of seeing the war on TV night after night that they have quit caring. I guess it is their right to be indifferent so I wouldn't say much to them, except that I believe it is their duty to research the war and find out exactly how they feel about it since I believe what is going on in Iraq affects everyone in America. I also believe some people simply don't know how to say thanks to soldiers so I wouldn't blame everyone for not doing something but if someone doesn't have any appreciation for returning soldiers then I think they are simply ignorant.

Will you be voting to "Stay the Course" or "Change the Course" on Nov. 7?

If I had an absentee ballot (which by the way is kinda hard to get in the desert) I would be voting for victory in Iraq. Now if by "Stay the Course" you mean Republican and by "Change the Course" you mean Democrat I would be voting to "Stay the Course" since those who want to "Change the Course" are more often then not defeatists and don't have the gall to stand up for anything. So again I would vote to "Stay the Course" and not "Change the Course" unless of course by "Stay the Course" you mean only playing one golf course for the rest of my life and by "Change the Course" you mean playing different courses from time to time. If that is the case then I would definitely vote to "Change the Course" and not "Stay the Course." But as it stands now I would vote to "Stay the Course."

Would you please define what you mean by faithful?

Someone who continued to read my blogs after they realized that I was just a dumb kid from Ohio who started this blog just to score chicks.

What prompted you to blog?

My dad told me I should do it because Hugh Hewitt would realize I was the man and put a link to me on his site by June. But what my dad didn't tell me was that Hugh Hewitt would then take it down a month later for some reason. I blame my father for the whole thing. Hugh you are off the hook, it isn't your fault because you never promised me anything.

Did you have a role model, a standard set by another blogger that you wanted to meet?

Nope, I actually never read blogs until I started my own. Sorry for the lame answer.

Will you continue to blog from home or have you groomed someone still stationed in Iraq to be your eyes and ears while you are stateside?

I will continue to blog from home inshallah. I never did find someone to groom to be my heir apparent but then again Buck Sargent is still here in Iraq and I am sure if you asked him he would admit that I had a profound affect on him. So be on the lookout for Boggs stateside.

You now have the opportunity to go anywhere in the world! Where will it be?

I want to go to Tanzania off the coast of Australia in the summer time. I tried to go for my leave this year but it was winter there so I had to pick somewhere else to go.

What do you want your first meal at home to be?

Some type of food would be the best for me (mom is that you?)

What would you say to a young(er) person contemplating signing up for a branch of the military in these times?

I would say "Great! Hop into my car and I'll drive you to the recruiter myself. We'll get the papers signed today and you'll be off to basic before you know it." On a serious note I would encourage them to do so because I feel it is a duty of able bodied individuals who also have the right mindset to handle the military. I would tell them that it has changed me as a person and helped me to mature at a time when many people I know still live night to night watching The Real World and whatever show Paris Hilton is on. The money is good, you get fed for free, free clothes, free travel...what is there not to like.

Would you really do it ALL again?

Hmmm. If I had a different job and I felt I was going to be able to make a difference then yes. I would want to skip all the pre-training we have to go through before we come here but I do think I would do it all over again. Some people have to sacrifice for the betterment of the world and I don't mind doing so. I didn't really have anything else going on anyway.

Are we 'winning' the war?

Great question. If you could define winning and war for me and I could answer you according to your own definitions then perhaps yes. I do believe we are and we will continue to do so until we pull out of here.

When did you first realize you were gay? Is that the reason you joined the Army, to be around all that glistening man meat for 24/7/365?

The first time I realized I was gay was when...wait a minute you are trying to trick me aren't you? On a serious tip the privledge of being around so much "glistening man meat" for an extended period of time is only another reason I would encourage youngsters to join up. I may not be gay but I sure can appreciate a dirty, sweaty, smelly army guy like only another army guy could.

And, why can't you be as cool as Buck Sargent over on

Now I know you are toying with me. The mere mention of anyone ever being as cool as Buck Sargent is simply preposterous. No one will ever be able to achieve the level of awesomeness that Buck has in such a relatively short amount of time. You might have well asked me why I am only the second most popular milblogger on the internet or why Blackfive doesn't include me on their blogroll, those are questions only God knows the answer to.

Congrats on making it all the way through.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Ask Away

A faithful reader suggested to me in an email the other day that it might be fun to post an interview of myself just like I used to do with other soldiers in my unit (which by the way I failed miserably at continuing). So I am asking that if you would like to see this happen then post your questions in the comment section of this post and I will answer as many as I can and post them in a few days. If not then just stay away from my blog for the next week or so. Any and all questions will be answered...okay well at least considered. Ask away.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Time Is Getting Short

Leaving the wire one last time

With only three or so weeks left till I return home I am having some of the same thoughts I had at the end of my first deployment. While I am ready to go home and get away from the army for a while I feel a bit hesitant about leaving Iraq. It may sound funny to an outsider but part of me wants to stay here and continue doing my job, although admittedly a smaller part of me wants to stay this time than I did the first time. I suppose the best way to explain my feelings would be to say that I don’t like leaving a job halfway done. I would like to be able to come over here and see through what we came to do till the end but with our forces seemingly committed until at least 2010 I know that isn’t a reality.

Just when we started to feel like we had all aspects of our job down pat the time has come to pick up and leave. Months and months were invested in our training and figuring out our job. Mistakes were made in abundance but now we are to the point where we can seemingly run down the road without problem. Sure we have our minor mishaps but for the most part we are an experienced crew operating as the army wants us too. If a convoy could be a thing of beauty ours are. Okay that last statement might be over the top but you get where I am going.

I guess there in lies the rub with the way the army conducts deployments. In today’s world there would be public outcry if soldiers were deployed to a war zone for years at a time like they were in previous wars (just look at the outcry that followed the announcement about the 172nd Stryker Brigade having to extend a few months). The problem though is that it takes close to a year for soldiers to become completely comfortable with their job. With this war, where no conceivable end is in sight, it wouldn’t be possible for soldiers to remain in theater for the duration. The army must allow breaks for soldiers in order for us to maintain our sanity. However, when an experienced unit leaves their area of operation a new unit must make all the same mistakes again on their own to the disappointment and frustration of the local population. We are pretty much damned if we do and damned if we don’t. Nothing is ever perfect especially in the army, but hey who does it better than we do?

When my unit first arrived in country the unit we replaced made sure we knew not to travel in one particular town where a previous unit had mistakenly killed some people and the whole town turned on them as a result. The actions of the units before us directly affected an aspect of our mission and we had to pay the price as a result of others mistakes. I don’t want to make the case for units staying longer in theater, as I don’t want to have to do it myself, but those who are good at what they do (172nd) pay the price for those who aren’t (101st and 4th ID in Baghdad) which leads to resentment.

Correct me if I am wrong, as I am sure a lot of people will, but from what I have seen reserve soldiers care about the quality of the job they do more than active duty soldiers do. Of course this is a sweeping generality as I have no way of gauging all units but from my personal experience in my little corner of Iraq this is what I have seen. When we arrived in country we were left with a motor pool full of broken vehicles. We had barely just enough vehicles to hit the road with and often had to fix broken down vehicles out on the road. Our maintenance section put in 24-hour days trying to get our fleet back up and working and should be awarded a medal for their hard work that now has us working with almost 100 percent of our equipment. Now that we are leaving we have been working tirelessly making sure the unit replacing us has not only working vehicles, but a clean and orderly motor pool, TOC, trailers etc. Although we sometimes complain about the extra work we have to do that the active duty unit we replaced failed to do for us we realize that the mission must continue after we leave and therefore must do our part to ensure that we don’t screw the new unit like we were screwed.

Okay well I have strayed from my original topic and therefore must apologize to all of my English teachers of the past. So we are counting the days now and are finally in the teens. With only three weeks left I find myself reflecting on the experiences of the past year. When I do so I tend to think only about the good stuff and leave the bad stuff by the wayside. I did the same thing shortly after returning home from my first deployment. For some reason I can never remember all the things I bitched about or hated while in country. Instead the stories that come to mind are overwhelmingly positive. I remember when I was just a FNG trying to find the chow hall, or whatever you people in the real world call the place where you eat food. I remember hitting the road for the first time and looking forward to a year of traveling the roads of Northern Iraq. I always loved doing the things that non-military types never get to do-shooting at stuff while driving down the road, watching stuff blow up on the side of the road, talking to Iraqis about women, and lying down for bed in an open prison in Baghdad watching tracers fly through the air over my head.

When I really give it some thought I think I’ll miss this place. Iraq has been my home for two out of the last three years. I am more at home here then I am in America. I told the story before about last Thanksgiving but I think I’ll do it again because it accurately describes what I mean. Last Thanksgiving I woke up at 4:30 am on the ground in Kuwait after a few hours of sleep and then rolled over and ate my favorite MRE: Cajun Beans and Rice. It seemed perfectly normal to me and I didn’t give any thought about Thanksgiving back home. I wasn’t home sick rather, just looking forward to the day of shooting that lay ahead. Now I find myself worrying about what awaits in America. Will I be able to readjust to college life? Will I remember how to function with regular civilians? When will I learn to stop cussing and looking out for people to shoot? What will I do now that I have to pay for food and gas?

Whatever I face I know it is just a matter of time before I am back to complaining about the things we complain about in America i.e. the weather being too hot, nothing being on TV, and having to pay too much for gas ( at least I think that is what people complain about.)

I am writing this as it is raining outside. The first time it rained here was a day or so after we got here last year. Time to pack up and leave for the last time (fingers crossed!).

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Victor and I

Well congratulations are due to me for making it into a Victor Davis Hanson column entitled “Traitors to the Enlightenment” this past week on his blog The Private Papers. He mentions how T F Boggs “keeps even the pope safe and the continent confident…” That is indeed high praise from one of my favorite authors isn’t it?

Okay, okay, okay so Victor wasn’t talking about me but he did mention my good old home state of Ohio.

“Those in an auto parts store in Fresno, or at a NASCAR race in southern Ohio, might appear to Europeans as primordials with their guns, “fundamentalist” religion, and flag-waving chauvinism. But it is they, and increasingly their kind alone, who prove the bulwarks of the West. Ultimately what keeps even the pope safe and the continent confident in its vain dialogues with Iranian lunatics is the United States military and the very un-Europeans who fight in it.”

I cannot claim to be a NASCAR fan but I am from Ohio. So maybe VDH didn’t have me personally in mind when he wrote the column but I bet I would make it in to his gross generalization about those who are working to protect the world from terrorists.

While I was in London on leave in August I found myself talking to a London cop that I was hanging out with for the night after downing one too many pints. As I looked around the bar I again saw what kept striking me as odd for the whole week or so I was in London: there was an absence of males that looked like “real men.” I turned to the cop and said:

“You know what, I haven’t seen anyone that looks like a real man in London.”

He looked at me for a second and then spoke: “What do you mean?”

“Well everyone has a stupid little mohawk-type deal going on with their hair and they wear tight form fitting clothes that accentuate their butt. They all look prissy to me.”

I doubt this was the best way to win over my guide for the night but I imagine he brushed it off with a thought that I was just a dumb American. I guess I must have forgotten he was a European male or something. I could really care less though and as the night progressed he seemed to forget about my comment anyway. We shared drinks and swapped stories until he left me wandering alone in downtown London at 3am miles from my hotel. Come to think about it maybe he didn’t forget about the comment.

Perhaps VDH is right, maybe all the men in the military are very un-European. Maybe that is why I only saw Justin Timberlake-like metrosexuals in London. The longer I stayed in London the more I missed America. Conceivably the men in London threw me off keel since I have been around military guys for so long and am used to smoking, cussing, belching, and lewd behavior.

Oh if only all men could be like military men then our world would be safe from terrorists but not from bad behavior.

The editors of Maxim would rule the country and Marlboro and Camel would be the different political parties. We would drink coke instead of water, dip instead of brushing our teeth, Febreze instead of wash clothes, work out instead of work, and play video games instead of read. Oh what a country!

Like it or not these are the types of guys that fight everyday for the freedoms that Americans enjoy. We may not win any politeness awards but that is not what you want of your fighting force entrusted with the task to kill the bad guys. Let us watch NASCAR and talk cars all the while skirting around books without pictures and workouts that don’t involve weights.

All this is said in order to prove me very un-European, but from the looks of it I doubt you would have confused me otherwise.

One more for good measure.

Monday, October 02, 2006

A Problem That Needs To Be Fixed

Looks scary out there, I'll just stay in my trailer.

Of course there are numerous things I believe the army could fix or simply do better but there is one major problem that I believe that needs to be fixed right away. In the 30 or so months I have spent deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom since February 2003 I have never heard a word out of anyone’s mouth in the army from the brigade level down about why we are fighting in Iraq. We receive numerous classes about how to behave while in country but nothing about why we are in country to begin with which leads me to believe our chain of command is not concerned about their soldiers having a clue why they are here or not. Whether or not this is the case is not what I am concerned with, it appears that way and since perceptions are a reality for a lot of soldiers I believe it needs to be addressed.

Let me get something straight before I continue though; I believe we have good reason to be in Iraq and I am content fighting for the reasons that put me here i.e. Saddam was dangerous, he expressed a want for nuclear weapons and whether or not he had them he was actively seeking them, he used WMD’s against his own people before, he violated UN sanctions etc. etc. yadda yadda yadda. The list goes on and on, and like I said is satisfactory for myself and a number of other soldiers, but I believe that most soldiers don’t have the slightest clue why they are really here. Whether this fault is completely their own or partly the fault of their chain of command is up for debate.

Why do I believe that most soldiers don’t have a clue why they are here you may be asking? Well I hear them talking about it all the time. “We are only here for the oil, to avenge Bush’s daddy, to try and take over the world” insert any loony reason you want into this sentence and they have probably said it. These beliefs are not only echoed by lower enlisted soldiers but I have also heard complete confusion or just plain wrong assumptions for our being here from senior enlisted NCOs and officers. These beliefs are not only unfounded on my fellow soldiers’ parts but also intellectually irresponsible and lazy on the part of their leaders. Leaders in the army have many responsibilities toward their soldiers and I believe one of those responsibilities is mentoring them on the why and not just then when and how.

To outline the problem more specifically I believe there is almost no understanding of why we are fighting in Iraq on the company level (i.e. each individual unit). We carry out our job day in and day out without ever hearing how we are affecting the war cause with our efforts. If we were only presented with the big picture once in awhile I think we would have more motivation to complete our job the best we are able to. I understand the job of most soldiers is to do rather than to question but I don’t believe that is an excuse to go about our jobs ignorant of the overall picture. If our leaders took the time to sit us down and talk to us about why we are in Iraq as often as they do about sexual harassment or finance we would have a much better understanding of why we are fighting.

I am willing to bet a large sum of money that most soldiers in WWII knew exactly what they were fighting for. They went to Europe and the Pacific with the knowledge that if they weren’t successful they would be facing the consequences of a Nazi dominated Europe on one side and a power hungry Japanese threat on the other. Of course it would be easier to fight a uniformed enemy like we did in WWII than to do what we are doing in Iraq and Afghanistan where everyone looks like an enemy, but this is precisely the reason why we need a better understanding of the big picture in order to stay motivated and keep up the fight.

I accuse myself of being guilty in the past of championing only the good of what is going on in Iraq. I have argued against polls that have come out stating that a majority of soldiers simply wish they could leave Iraq now and go home and I feel now that I would be wrong to do so again. While I do believe that if it came down to the brass tax most soldiers would agree that we should not cut and run right now I do not believe the majority of soldiers could give you a detailed description of why we are fighting in Iraq other than saying something like “we are doing it for the Iraqi people so they can be free.” Giving the Iraqi people a chance at freedom is a great and honorable thing but it is not the only reason why we are here.

This problem perplexes me and I wish I could do more about it. Of course I spend my time trying to educate fellow soldiers if they want to listen but I usually cannot get passed my first argument before someone calls me a Bush lover and asks me if I want to listen to some Toby Keith while drinking Coca Cola and eating apple pie. I liken the problem to the problem America has with poor voter turnout for elections. I do not believe everyone should vote since most people are misinformed or simply ignorant about which candidate to vote for and it is the same with soldiers and their opinions about the war. Most soldiers don’t take the time to watch the nightly news let alone read about what is going on outside their trailer. Most soldiers’ opinions don’t mean squat and shouldn’t because they don’t have a mind for anything other than their work. If a convoy to a base that needs fuel desperately to carry out helicopter missions in order to catch bad guys gets scratched due to bad circumstances so be it, more time for them to watch TV. If we only had a better idea of the consequences of our actions we wouldn’t feel this way. I don’t mean to make it sound like all soldiers could care less or don’t have brains but the reality is that some of them don’t.

So what do I believe we should do about the problem then? I think we should start training soldiers on all aspects of their deployment. If they are going to be stationed in Baghdad then we should explain to them what is going on in Baghdad and what our military leaders hope to see happen in the future. We should also explain to each unit how they figure into the plan for the future and give them constant updates about how what they are doing is affecting the outcome of the plan for the positive or the negative. This training should not be conducted individually by every unit but rather, by a team of army approved speakers that could travel around and/or compile power point slides, videos, and fact books to hand out for units to provide for their soldiers. This would probably be the only way the army would be able to control what information is being put out to soldiers and would mirror the way in which they disseminate information already so it wouldn’t be a big change.

We could also prepare soldiers at home station before they deploy by giving them a history of the region and the conflict we are in. By doing so false information and rumors would be stopped dead in their tracks before soldiers got into country and started talking to friends and family, and in some cases the media, and spreading the lies they hear from other soldiers.

All soldiers don’t have to believe in what they are fighting for but at the very least they should be educated about the reasons why their leadership has asked them to fight in a foreign land. With more education only comes more understanding and that is never a bad thing. Until the army takes this problem seriously I believe more soldiers will look back on their time in the desert as a good but unnecessary experience.