when you've earned it, spend time with your families." - Colin Powell
Sunday, July 31, 2011
when you've earned it, spend time with your families." - Colin Powell
Thursday, July 28, 2011
intend to belong to any other party than the party of freedom and progress" -
Sunday, July 24, 2011
Care packages are a morale booster and something that every Soldier looks forward to. I'd say that's been true since the Revolutionary War and earlier. The contents have changed with the years but, generally, they always bring a taste of home. Early during Operation Iraqi Freedom, care packages frequently came with generic personal care items like baby wipes, soaps, shampoo, etc. As our presence here became more fixed it brought the rise of the AAFES and the PX. This meant Soldiers didn't need the baby wipes anymore and started demanding things we couldn't get at the PX. Care packages gradually transitioned to things like phone cards, favorite coffees, regional food items, Mom's cookies, and other things that Soldiers really wanted and needed. The generic items still get sent but they normally end up on a "common" table where anyone can take whatever they want. Whenever I receive a care package I'm no different in that I keep the good stuff and throw all the other items on the share table. It's a normal routine around here. Bottom line is that we absolutely love getting packages. Just make certain you ask your Soldier what it is we actually want and need here before you pack a bunch of stuff that's just going to end up on the common table. I also recommend you pay attention to what you are packing to ensure it is actually meant for humans. Here's what I mean....
The other day I was walking by the share table in the Command Group and noticed a new package of some type of munchie. The package was yellow, resealable, and had the appearance it may be some type of beef jerky. Naturally, I reached for it. To my dismay and horror, I realized it was a package of Snausages. Really? Snausages? Dog snacks? Should I have been salivating because they were "beef and cheese flavor"? And does a dog care what beef and cheese really tastes like? After all, dogs are known to eat vomit and shit just as quickly as they'll eat a piece of bacon slipped under the table. But I digress. Snausages! WTF? I'm reminded of the urban legend often propogated by liberal, left-wing nut jobs in D.C. around election time that claims Seniors are eating pet food because they can't afford human food. Really? Last time I looked cans of tuna were cheaper than cans of 9-Lives. Damn, I digress once again. Who in the world thought that we are so hard up here that we'll even eat dog treats? You shouldn't have! Really, you shouldn't have. Further research on my part revealed that the "Scoobie Snacks" came in a generic care package from a church group (meaning a whole bunch of Snausages were mailed to Iraq and Afghanistan) and the box had not one, not two, but THREE packages. One just happened to end up in the Command Group. And let me dispel the theory that my mentioning of SFC Butch inspired this. We received the box of Fido bones about the exact same time I met Butch so I hadn't even written about him yet. Nope, this was either a cruel joke or a failure of the quality control back at the care package assembly line. Either way, pay attention to what you are sending. My Battalion HHC might call themselves the "Mad Dawgs" but that doesn't mean they eat dog treats.
We still love care packages. The end is near in Iraq. We'll be out of here by the end of the year. As we conduct our responsible retrograde the services available to us diminish. This includes the PX we've come so used to having nearby. With that in mind, your care packages will take on extra importance in the last few months. Just no dog treats ok? Next time you talk with your Soldier find out what you should be mailing. Don't get creative. Just get your Soldier's list and go check it off. I doubt very seriously Joe will ask for Snausages. Keep it simple, keep it in line with what we need, and keep us happy.
Tuesday, July 19, 2011
grand pillars of Truth, Freedom, and Religion, encouraged by the smiles of
Justice and defended by her own patriotic sons." - Nathanael Greene
Although it seemed like any other Friday, 15 July 2011 marked a milestone for our deployment. It was the 100th day since we had first arrived in Kuwait and, hence, began our "boots on the ground" count. There was no fanfare. A significant number of our Soldiers were on convoys delivering cargo all across northern Iraq. But it was an important day to reflect on what we'd accomplished since arriving and also focus on the work that still lay ahead. 100 days goes by rather quickly. In that time the Soldiers of our Battalion have driven hundreds of thousands of miles across some of the most dangerous roads in Iraq in order to deliver all classes of supply to our Comrades. At the same time, they've been carrying thousands of tons of cargo southward as part of our retrograde from the country. There have been IEDs and other hostile activities designed to disrupt our battle rhythm and bring harm to our Soldiers. However, the enemy has been unsuccessful. Our convoys march on without loss or incident. It is a testament to the young men and women who are so steadfast and loyal to our mission. They are the best. At the same time we've been a key neighbor at COB Speicher for the base closure plan. Actually, there are simply too many things to mention. I'm damn proud of the "Roadmasters" from Fort Eustis, VA, the "Border Bandits" from Brownsville, TX, and our very own "Mad Dawgs" from Fort Lee, VA. We've also gained some new responsibilities, new Soldiers, and expanding roles for the days ahead. We've a ways to go yet but we are ready. Our OPTEMPO is already at fever pitch.
Although we didn't really have time to celebrate the passing of our 100th day, CSM and I did give some of our Soldiers a chance to unwind around our firepit at the BN HQ. We had a DJ from MWR set up and he provided karaoke. While Soldiers sang and danced, we smoked cigars and drank fake beer around the fire. I joined in the fun as well, singing tunes like "Creep" by Radiohead, "Scenes From an Italian Restaurant" by Billy Joel, and "Plush" by Stone Temple Pilots. Yes, we had fun for a few hours. After all, day 101 was right around the corner.
Sunday, July 17, 2011
Tuesday, July 12, 2011
Thomas A. Edison
Sunday, July 10, 2011
contain multitudes." - Walt Whitman
Wednesday, July 6, 2011
through a community, are essential to the preservation of a free government." -
Monday, July 4, 2011
protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our
Fortunes, and our Sacred Honor." - the final sentence of the Declaration of
cordially loves a union with Great Britain than I do. But , by the God that made
me, I will cease to exist before I yield to a connection on such terms as the
British Parliament propose; and in this, I think I speak the sentiments of
America." - Thomas Jefferson, the primary author of the Declaration of
Friday, July 1, 2011
recesses of their minds wake in the day to find that it was vanity: but
the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dreams with
open eyes, to make it possible." - T.E. Lawrence (aka Lawrence of Arabia)
Two weeks at Carlisle Barracks flew past faster than an F16 on afterburners. That's not surprising though, as there was very little idle time. As a matter of fact, there was only one day "off" the entire time. Even that day included a class cookout at the golf clubhouse. The second week of the resident phase included more seminar discussion, but it also included a trip to Washington, D.C. My group paid a visit to the Congressional Appropriations for both the House and the Senate. It was a pretty fascinating visit that provided considerable insight into the discussions and debates that shape the future budgeting of the military. There is considerable agency interaction that, ultimately, makes or breaks individual requests for Department of Defense funding. I confirmed that my future is not in politics. The Capitol is a great place to visit but I'll leave the roles of elected officials to others.
At the conclusion of the resident phase, I began the long journey back to COB Speicher. My patience was tried from the start when my luggage was "lost" upon my arrival in Atlanta. Actually, it had been placed on a later aircraft. Fortunately, I loitered at the airport long enough to battle the line at baggage claim. Upon learning that my bag was arriving on a later flight I stuck around. It was long after midnight when the bag arrived. Thereupon I checked into the airport Marriott and immediately crashed. The next day would see me back at the airport to secure a seat on the R&R return flight back to Kuwait. I did not have high hopes because flying in a TDY status meant I had to fly stand-by. There were a lot of people returning from R&R. Wave after wave of Soldiers lined up and checked in while I waited. Eventually I was called forward. A seat was available. There would be no need to wait another night in Atlanta. By the end of the day I was on my way back to Kuwait on a capacity-filled Omni Air International flight.
The flight back to Kuwait was uneventful. We had a three hour layover for refueling in Shannon, Ireland. This is an ironic moment, as upon exiting the aircraft we walked through the duty free shop and exited into the concourse through a bar that touted several brands of Stout on tap. Alas, a tease! General Order #1 was back in effect. All we could do is look at the various Irish Whiskeys and try not to watch the other airport patrons savor their stout. It was torture but lessened by the fact that we had all just come off of two weeks in which we were not shackled by GO#1. Still, it was a test of will power and patience. Soon we were back on our flight. We arrived at Ali Al Salem at 0300. R&R returns were immediately manifested to their ultimate destinations. I had to sign up for space available (again, since I was TDY). I then checked into one of the infamous tents and laid down for a few hours of sleep. I was expecting an extended wait in Kuwait.
After about four hours of sleep I went back to the gateway tent to check the status of my flight north. The fixed-wing to Speicher had been cancelled. Damn! My next option was to sign up for a flight to Balad and hope that my friends at Catfish Air could get me on a helicopter from there to Speicher. There was plenty of room on the Balad flight, as several of those go out every day. Less than twelve hours after arriving in Kuwait I was on my way back to Iraq. My timing, it turns out, was impeccable. When I arrived in Balad I was able to hitch a ride over to Catfish Air. I was there for less than three minutes before heading out to the tarmac. Blackhawks were inbound and they only needed to swipe my card to get me on the flight. Sixteen hours after arriving in Kuwait I was already in Iraq and boarding a Blackhawk to Speicher. It was a gorgeous night and from my perch behind the door gunner I could see for miles. The lights below us were peaceful and could just as easily been the lights of sleepy towns back in the U.S. I enjoyed the view and the flight. By midnight I was touching down at Speicher. One of my TOC "battle captains" was there to pick me up. Welcome back to COB Speicher! Although it had been less than 48 hours past, Army War College was already a distant moment. Now it was quick sleep and get back into command mode. The war doesn't wait.