28 August 2005

The Wheels Fall Off The Recovery Vehicle

To be completely honest, I thought anyone that came to my blog knew I was a contractor. It's not something I hide or try to deflect attention from. I take great pride in my job, it's a job that allows me to give back to my country which took me in, gave me a skill that few people possess, and made a man out of me.

Unfortunately some people seem to have a problem with my career field. Most of the time I ignore them, but in the case of Kirk over at the recovery vehicle I am unable to ignore his post. First of all I will be correcting a few errors that kirk assumed about me, and secondly I relish the chance to share a few words with him.

Kirk, obviously we are on opposite ends of the political spectrum and that makes us not very likely to see things eye to eye. I noticed several inaccuracies when you were talking about me and my post. First of all Kirk, Caelestis is Latin for heavenly or celestial, I was unaware of the greyhound story and I don't play RPG games. I picked the name as an homage to God, without him nothing in this universe is possible. But that's neither here nor there. My first problem with your post was this quote:

His post sounds like it is a really gritty, on the front lines post from a guy in the military serving in Iraq. Like he is going to give me the grunt's eye view of what is going on. And then it suddenly veers north to the cool country of Bosnia and little children and stuff. Pretty soon it is sounding like it was written by Carl Rove and I'm thinking, "can this guy really think this way."

I am in the habit of giving a first person perspective of the men and women I am fortunate enough to serve with. And I do serve with them, I have twice before and will continue to do so now and in the future. My views are exactly that, my views, but my posts are rarely about me, instead I try and put the focus where it belongs; On the troops. I guess the "cool country of Bosnia" is your euphemism for my description of the heroes I am blessed to be able to know and help. Their work is the stuff of legend, name me an example in human history when a nation selflessly sent its young men and women to other lands to aid the dispossessed. We are not here to conquer or to steal their oil (which I'll address shortly), or even to impose our values upon these people. Are you aware Kirk, that George W. Bush is the greatest liberator of Muslims in human history? A Conservative Christian has freed more worshippers of Allah than any other figure in history. Finally YES I can really think this way, I and tens of thousands of soldiers here on the ground "think this way", hundreds of thousands of our fellow citizens back home feel the same way. I can understand you not understanding this way of thinking, you acknowledge yourself that you never served in the military, and therefore it is no fault of your own that you cannot fathom what we feel or think about our sacred duty. And since we are on the subject of military service, this quote of your's was also troubling to me.

But - he isn't in the military. He is a mercenary. Oops, I mean a contractor. So he's making, what? 20 or 30 times as much as a GI? Oh, and he can leave whenever he wants.

I tell you what, when he donates his contractor pay back to an aid group in Iraq to the point that he is taking home the same pay as a sergeant, say, then he can wrap himself up in the flag and all his purple prose about the lofty, philosophical goals America is in Iraq to accomplish.

Oops Kirk, I was in the miltary, five proud years. I have served in combat units Kirk, I have served in tactical and strategic units Kirk, so does that make me any more worthy to you? As for pay, 20 to 30 times more than a soldier? What are you smoking and can I have some. My service here isn't about money, it never has been, but since you brought it up, let's talk about it. I'll be honest, I make more than a private or sergeant, but less than a Sergeant Major or a General. Are they also worthy of your scorn? I am here as a volunteer, but I can hardly leave when I want, I'm not sure where you are getting your facts on contracting, but you are wrong on every count so far. I do not make a fortune here, nor would I serve here if I did. I am here to give back to my country and to my Army. That Army took a nineteen year old kid and changed him from a piece of crap that only cared about himself and made him a man that understood the concept of duty, honor, and sacrifice. I was taught a skill that few possess and when my wife and I both left the service I immediately took this job. This job allows me to continue to give back to the organization that made me what I am today. Instead of sitting my ass at a desk in Seattle or Austin, I took a military job in the dust and heat and danger with the men and women I have come to love. Finally why would I donate my pay to an Aid group, do you work for free Kirk? Do the soldiers work for free Kirk? I am paid to share the same sacrifices that most soldiers here in Iraq shoulder. Most soldiers live with the heat and bad food, so do I, most soliders are away from their families for a lengthy period of time, so am I (Not nearly as long as the soldiers, who truly bear a burden I do not). Most soldiers are subject to IDF attacks, as am I. And many soldiers leave the safety of the FOB to do their jobs, as do I. I don't talk about what I do for OPSEC sake, but let's just say that what I do is vital to the war effort in way's you couldn't imagine. Not that I am important, for I am a peon and a nobody compared to the heroes I work with everyday. But the work I do alongside them is important in its own right.

Sorry had to get that off my chest, nothing chaps my ass more than someone thinking I do this for the money or as a mercenary, I do this job because it allows me to continue serving even when I am not able to be in the active force anymore.

Another of your points that bothered me Kirk was this one:

America is in Iraq because of the oil and for revenge following a plan based on faulty intelligence, myopic analysis and planning by yes-men who have never been to war. Think about that - none of those guys has actually been to war. Except for Colin Powell. The man who had been to war, the person on the Bush team who actually wore a uniform in the field, was marginalized and ignored while spin doctors and autocrats assured us of what would and wouldn't happen

I have explained why we are here ad nauseam, but for you I'll do it again. If we were here just for the oil, I ask this. Why did we not make an accomodation with Saddam instead of overthrowing him? If Bush is about oil and money, why risk destroying, crippling or even endangering so much oil and the wealth that comes with it? Saddam would have been more than happy to sell it to us, and in our past we have made such accomodating deals with other despots. Why would we risk so much for something we could have so easily? Secondly why fight here? Iraq's oil is notoriously of a low quality full of sulfides which makes it more expensive to refine? Why didn't we go after Iran or Saudi Arabia, both of which have much more pristine petroleum fields? Thirdly, revenge? For what, Saddam not getting his ass kicked hard enough in the First Gulf War? What exactly was the faulty intelligence? The fact that every major foreign intel agency also believed Saddam had these weapons? Also Kirk, why does it matter if the weapons were here or not, the people of Iraq are free, free for the first time in their histroy, free to forge their own path, to be an Islamic state or a Jeffersonian Democracy, or something in between, the point is they are free to decide for themselves. That is something only the Muslims of Afghanistan can also say, no one else under the flag of Dar Al Islam can say the same, so why are you fixated on weapons and why are you missing the bigger story about free Arabs? I bet it has to do with the fact you get your news from the media, who couldn't report the truth in Iraq if was swimming in the pool of their fortress hotels. And finally what do you mean Colin Powell was the only one to see war? Ever hear of Tommy Franks, and Gen.William Wallace, for starters? The list of senior military men that advised the President that have seen combat is very extensive. I guess you forgot about those guys didn't you?

Next you said something we both agree on and for that I salute you.

At 50 I'm old enough to remember Viet Nam - at least from a civilian's perspective. There were a number of things to feel shameful about in that war and one of the worst, in my opinion, was the way we treated our soldiers.

Yes we did treat them poorly in Vietnam, my father was one of those men that was spit on in the San Francisco airport and called a baby killer. But things have improved and only the pure leftists such as Code Pink and United for Peace and Justice seem to be against the soldiers.

Next you go back into strange territory with this rant:

Opposing the war, and holding the Bush administration responsible for it, does not mean that I agree with simply leaving either. George Bush needs to leave. His administration needs to leave. Because they have failed miserably. They have failed the Nation and they were unacceptably slow to support the troops when they needed it. Their insensitivity continues. Were Bush capable of actual leadership a meeting between him and Cindy Sheehan early on at Crawford could, could have been a moment for actual healing and unifying much of the divide in the country. A time for all of us to come together and grieve our losses. Grieving doesn't mean we all have to agree about everything.

Exactly how has George Bush failed? Is Saddam in power? Has Al Qaeda struck us again? By any measureable metrics are we losing the war in Iraq? The answer to all three questions is no. I'm at a loss how Bush has failed to support the troops when they needed it? Have you been to Iraq, Kirk? The troops here are well taken care of, of course they want to go home, we all do, and of course there were some mistakes made and no life isn't perfect and we all want a Starbucks and a Taco Bell on every FOB. But your assertion that Bush has failed to support the troops rings hollow to those of us who have lived here with the troops. The enemy we fight is a dynamic one and I can tell you from experience when I was here in 2003 for the invasion, IED's were a term that had not yet been invented and extra armor was something not envisioned as being needed. Hell, none of us had body armor then, not me or the soldiers I rode into war with. (And yes Kirk I have seen war up close, being in a ground convoy in a manuever element during the invasion means you saw some action.) The enemy adapted and went after a weakness we had, we countered as quickly as possible, the enemy adapted again, we countered again. This will go on for as long as we are here in Iraq. That's what happens in a war Kirk, the enemy tries to get better at killing you, and you try to get better at responding to his adaptations. And finally we come to the Cindy Sheehan moment, this is where we disagree the most Kirk. President Bush already met this woman once, now she wants a chance to embarass him in front of the world to feed her own ego, sorry charlie it doesn't work like that. Now we are hearing she has blamed Israel for her son's death, and we have heard her call Iraqi insurgents freedom fighters, the people that killed her own child are not freedom fighters, they are monsters that rape women, and set their bombs off next to children playing. She has also stated that America is not a country worth dying for, and that George Bush and the U.S. military are the largest terrorist groups in the world. And for the grand finale she has hinted that she believes Osama Bin Laden is not behind 9/11. (It does make me wonder what Casey Sheehan would think of all this) If you want links for these quotes Kirk just do a search for them, she said all of them and she said more. Let's see if you are intellectually lazy, or blindingly partisan.

Oh what the hell, I'll do the work for you.

Cindy Speaks

Cindy Speaks some more

Finally you ended with this gem

We are still in Iraq and we will be in Iraq for a long time to come and it is going to be far more expensive in terms of blood and money than we are willing to admit. Just like all the other Crusades before.

Supporting the men and women in the military is not the same thing as agreeing with the President. Pointing out the fallacies of his positions is not siding with the enemy. Saying the Emperor has no clothes is not un-Patriotic. It is part of a search for a rational course acknowledging the reality of the world around us.

Do you really think this is a Crusade or were you just playing fast and loose with the facts? And no criticizing the president is not unpatriotic, it is freedom of speech, something I and millions of others like me have fought for since our nation was created. What is wrong is saying you support the troops and not the war. The troops here are reenlisting in numbers never before seen in wartime. They want to be here, they want to engage and kill the enemy. They want to see the children of Iraq stop being used as targets for the terrorists. The reality of the world around us is a little muddled when I view it through your eyes. I criticize the President for things that I think he has screwed up on, but the war ain't one of them. It's obvious the soldiers feel this way when they recommit themselves to the fight instead of voting with their feet by leaving the service. It's obvious we aren't going to see eye to eye Kirk, so let's just agree to disagree, ok?

P.S. Hat tip to Dadmanly and Greyhawk and Mrs. G for defending me and shining some light on little old me. I appreciate it sincerely.


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