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 americancitizensoldier.blogspot.com?

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.

31 comments:

ET USN 71-78 said...

Great interview! I'm impressed your are able to be so objective and positive about your service in Iraq after almost a full year in country. That's quite an accomplishment for anyone away from home for that long. I wish you well on all your future plans.

BTW, I read you and Buck Sargeant back-to-back daily. You are both in good company.

tanksis said...

Great responses, full of all your good humor and reality. Thanks, Sgt.!

Glad to hear you do intend to keep blogging post military duty. Looking forward to all things from TIM's perspective:-)

You mentioned finding people to vote for you...You are from Ohio, no??? We'll gladly move right over the state border to give you our votes!

Lastly, sad but true, Buck IS the rock star. I mean, don't you hate it when the MARRIED guy gets all the females swooning? I feel for you, buddy. Especially since your original goal with this blog was to "get the chicks":-)

Always appreciative of you and your blog...

DayKay said...

Great job, Tim, thanks! And remember, I have three daughters, all eligible, two of them over 18, and you're just the type of "man-meat" a Mom would love as a son-in-law! :-)

Anonymous said...

Hey Tim,

Loved the interview, loved your thought-provoking responses! All of us know that you are far more than a "dumb kid from Ohio" and look forward to seeing your future unfold. We'll all be able to say, "We started reading Tim's blog when . . ." and by then you'll say "Who are you again?" LOL.

I totally agree with et usn 71-78 about how remarkable your demeanor is after your second tour of duty. Your objectivity and postive attitude do speak volumes about your maturity. A rare commodity these days.

We're all counting down with you. Heartfelt thanks for your second tour in Iraq and for your service!

Clare

Anonymous said...

Great interview! I guess the secret to a great interview is picking the right person to ask the hard questions. Has to be someone who is knowledgable, honest, articulate, trustworthy, without guile, clear headed, quick on his feet, personable, interesting....and good looking. The plane ticket is on the way, BTW. Great job Boggsy! You answered my question and I have confidence that I can trust it to be accurate from your perspective there in Iraq. Thanks. I hope you don't take too many years to run for office and make a difference in our government. An honest and thinking man would definitely be a nice change.
A

BUCK SARGENT said...

Dude, you're pretty good at interviewing yourself. You should try and host a talk show on Fox where you just sit there and ask yourself questions. And then you could argue with and talk over yourself like Chris Matthews or jump up and down on your couch like Tom Cruise.

I'd tune in for that.

membrain said...

Great interview. Everyone else has said what i would have.

I'm concerned that you can't get an absentee ballot. That's just not right. I wonder how many soldier's are in that situation.

Thanks for everthing.

Anonymous said...

Ah yes.....a younger version of Bill O'reilly who also does a great job of answering his own questions. Tim..Can you say...THE SPIN STOPS HERE...Or maybe your line could just be .....NO BULLSHIT
A&N

rabbitvette said...

Hey Tim....I didn't make it all the way through the interview this time (I'll come back to the rest:), but I like how you answered the snowman joke. I heard the joke on "Lost" and this is how it went:

What did one snowman say to the other?


"Smells like carrots"

Ha! It makes Chris and I laugh every time we hear it.
Miss you and can't wait til you're home! Your nephews really want to meet you! :)

Chelsea said...

Oh it's Chelsea by the way in case you didn't figure that out

Chelsea said...

Chris wouldn't put all the smiley faces and exclaimation points :)

mamaworecombatboots said...

Tim,

Well I'd say you are a successful chick magnet, unfortunatley most of the chicks here on your blog are old. Oh well, I'm sure you'll rectify that when you get back to the US of A. Wherever you go you'll make a difference, I'm convinced of that.

Anonymous said...

mamaworecombatboots.....You are only as old as you feel.

jordan said...

Thanks for taking the time to answer. I'll have to second et usn 71-78. Stay safe, and chin up.

Anonymous said...

They may be older but they're pimpin out their daughters.

Plus a little bird told me you've never had any problems in the chick magnet department.

tfmom said...

No, it wasn't your Mom who asked what you'd like to eat when you get home, but I love the person who asked! Thank you for asking the questions a Mom wants to know! I got some peanut butter and strawberry squeeze jelly yesterday and next week I'll get Breyers mint chocolate chip! Anything for my baby boy!

I'm glad some of you understand just how special my boy is, he'll be a great catch for the right girl!

t.h. snure said...

Sure he will mom, only I know you will object if she doesn't live in Columbus or plan to move there and stay for the duration.

tfuncle (tfmom's little brother)

T. F. Boggs said...

So as soon as I left the internet room here on base, which by the way doesn't allow thumb drives anymore so I had to answer all of the questions here in half hour increments hence some of the spelling, I thought of a better answer to the snowman question--

I hope your melting cause that is not where the carrot goes.

Okay that still might be lame but I figured it was worth a try.

Anonymous said...

I don't get it.

gypsy said...

LOL, great second answer to the snowman joke t.f. :)

Loved reading all of the questions and your answers, some of mine had already been asked so I didn't pose any to you. You're no dumb kid from Ohio, that's for sure.

Yep, we can all someday say...we knew him when!

Keep safe, counting down the days and can't wait to hear you're back in the USA.

Anonymous said...

You just have to keep blogging, Boggsy. I have to admit that if you don't I will not only miss your commentary on life....I will miss all your commenters....well, most of them. Strange how you can grow attached to people you have never seen.....but to whom you feel bonded by a common cause and a common love of country. You are the best Timothy Boggs. Maybe in the year 2016 we can all meet in a pub someplace and remember and toast the old days. You're the best Sarg. Save trip home!!
Annie

Anonymous said...

Make that SAFE trip home. I never said I could spell.

Bag Blog said...

I enjoyed the interview. You seem to be a well ballanced young man. It has been fun following your life in Iraq, and it would be nice to hear your thoughts once you are home. But as my daughter (beautiful 24 year old) said, "They (military men)don't write once they come home." Maybe you will be an exception. As Annie said, there is a bond between blogger and commenters. I would miss that. Whether you continue your blog or not, stay safe and have a great life.

The Ugly American said...

Another great interview Tim.

Let me know as soon as you get back in the states and we will get you a ticket to Vegas.

copy editor said...

I did not make it all the way through... YET.

But:

"I do not believe they are ready to govern themselves in a way similar to how we do in America."

Yes, it would be tough to imagine a tribal society governing in a manner like the United States, or England, or Canada. That is a major issue in Iraq today, if you'd forgive my assertion. It can also be an advantage. Each faction of note needs to be granted something. The question is whether the Shiite will make such deals, or if enough Shiite will, and if the Sunnis will seek it in a politcal sphere. If they don't, it's a generation-long conflict.

Anonymous said...

An interesting point? But what is your point Copy Editor? You quote a statement from Boggs then say this could be an advantage?... as compaired to democracy in the USA, GB or Canada? An advantage in what way? Sounds like bull to me unless you explain yourself....which of course you don't have to since it was just a comment to Boggs and not to be questioned. Forgive my assertion, please. It did make me wonder though what the hay you meant...in 50 words or less. :) since Boggsy was answering my question to start with and as a set of boots on the ground he answered it to my satisfaction.

copy editor said...

anonymous, I should have put more in my comment -- but I guess I went with a hit and run.

What I meant as a potential advantage is that (hopefully) each faction (and there are many factions) can be presented with something that makes them happy. If we were to break the factions into just three sets, we'd have Sunni Arabs, Kurds and Shiite Arabs.

The Sunni Arabs want a central government in Baghdad that can distribute Iraq oil wealth based on population and not where that oil resides. They want security forces that are trustworthy and not sectarian.

There are, of course, elements in that population that want more than the Shiite and Kurds will offer.

The Kurds want their autonomy, but I don't think they will over-reach in that desire during this generation. They have a remarkably strong economy, but powerful neighbors that have restive Kurdish minority populations.

Yet, there is a Kurdish seperatist movement that needs to be addressed. They've killed thousands in Turkey over the years.

The Shiite in the capital and the south are Arabs. They might have the same religious beliefs as the Iranians, but not the same cultural background. Sadr is very nationalistic. His rivals among the Shiite are more comfortable with Iranian influence.

I guess to sum up my ill informed opinion I would go with this: multiple factions can produce opportunities for compromise.

But, the security situation has got to be brought under control before that can happen.

Take for instance the long peace process in Northern Ireland. It had many similar problems as what we see in Iraq. Urban insurgency and biased government forces. The Royal Ulster Constabulary was vastly tilted toward the Protestants. There were also Protestant paramilitaries not unlike some of the militia groups in Iraq. Tension lasted a long time. A resolution has gained considerable momentum in the past six years. Tough police and military work from the British reduced the effectiveness of the terrorist wing of the Republican/Catholic movement. Pressure from Catholic Ireland (the southern Republic) encouraged Northern Catholics to enter the political process. Ditto pressure from Catholics in America, and Protestants in America. One major stumbling block was the disarmament of the IRA, which reminds me of what is happening in Iraq. The IRA refused to trash their weapons until there was a better (more neutral) police force in Northern Ireland. Through fits and starts, those weapons were stashed under lock and key. Some splinter groups from the IRA kept up the violence, but their numbers are very small. Last year, the IRA's weapons were junked.

Anonymous said...

Thanks coyy editor...I read all of the facts you stated in Mike Yon's blogs over a year ago from Mosul. So far I see no changes (compromises) from some factions. The kurds seem the most encouraging to me from observations and reports from men on the ground. When a government is elected by the people which includes officials from all these factions they do all have to work together for the whole entity as well as for individual parts...sort of like our own states (50 of those babies) and the country as a whole. Come to think of it we still have trouble from time to time on states rights (civil war for example)..Somehow we have held it together and are not currently killing each other off to control power. My question to Sgt. Boggs was is essence....do the Iraqi people have what it takes to do what we have done...without killing each other off. It will take much integrety, sacrifice of personl gain to accomplish this, as well as an honest desire to have one united nation for the good of all. And by the way....states rights did not take our government that darn long to come up with. Perhaps some sort of compromise in that area in Iraq would be possible, maybe geographically rather than religiously. Thanks copy editor for your feedback.

tanksis said...

tfmom-

Your son is a reflection of his upbringing. He obviously has a special family.

I hope that the good Sgt. does stay close to home in the future for your sake, that is until he has to move in to the White House:-)

frimel said...

tim! when are you officially stateside again? at any rate, give an old friend a call sometime, or if youre near OU this weekend (nov 3-5) we should hang out...otherwise if youre in southern california we should hang out sometime. hit me up broseph: 216 533 5743

Susan said...

Your sense of humor will take you far.

Thanks for taking time out of your life to serve your country, and help protect me and millions more.