Thursday, March 30, 2006

You Go Girl!!!

YEAH!!! My friend Desult earned the Army Physical Fitness Test Award during her stay in Basic! She maxed it out getting 300 out of a possible 300 points. She even did it while battling a respiratory illness. You go girl!

I'm telling you folks, this lady is kick a$$!

Go check it out!

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Saying What I Think...

Sgt Mom has done it again; putting the jumbled thoughts bouncing around my skull into eloquent and comprehensive words. I don't know how she does it, but darn glad she does. Go read.

But on another note, this just, well I just don't know what to think. I'm so very happy these men were saved and I regret the death of their companion. However, those "illegal occupiers" of Iraq are the ones who rescued them; I shudder to think about their fate if those "occupiers" weren't there. Would a simple thank you have been so hard to say WITHOUT the anti-war spin? I just don't understand some people.

HT to Drudge.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Dog Days

Sgt Mom has written her adventures with the Lesser Weevil here, here, here, and here, and some of her comments got me thinking about my two “boys” and how they make me laugh. The Blue Eyed Infidel also would post about her dogs and I really enjoyed reading them, so I figured WTH, I’ll try and convey some of the adventures my two dogs have had and the joy (and occasional frustration) they bring to my wife and I.

Our oldest is a pure chocolate lab that my wife got while I was deployed to Korea the last time back in 1999. In some ways, he’s a typical lab; he LOVES the water, and has a very “soft mouth”. However, he doesn’t enjoy fetch like other labs. In fact, after about 2 retrievals, he’ll look at the stick/ball/Frisbee then me, then the stick/ball/Frisbee, back to me with a look like, WTF? I just BROUGHT that damn thing to you, why are you throwing it away again? Then go lie in the grass and chew on some grass. Now if I throw the stick/ball/Frisbee into a lake, he’ll keep playing till he drowns…

The younger one we got a year after the first to keep him company while we were at work. He is a black lab/blue heeler mix and is one of the smartest dogs I’ve ever seen. In fact, he’s too smart for his own good and I’ll often call him Einstein. When he was a puppy, my wife’s shoes (not mine, or anything else) were getting chewed up. We never caught the culprit, but assumed it was the older dog, being jealous of the pup and acting out since we ALWAYS found the shoe remnants either in his bed or near where he was laying and the puppy was at least all the way across the room. Well, one day I snuck in the house to see if I could catch the monster in the act. I heard the tell tale sounds of something (I assumed it was yet another shoe) meeting its demise. As I snuck up the stairs, I could see the big dog lying on the floor looking the other way. About that time, the stair creaked and I saw a small furry black streak dragging a Teva up to the big dog, drop it between his outstretched paws, and continued like a shot clear across the room and jumped into his bed, tail wagging a mile a minute. I had to laugh; he was deliberately placing evidence to frame the older dog for his misdeeds, and then look on with his innocent little face while the older dog was like what? I’m just laying here dude!

Our lab is not the most graceful dog on the planet; in fact, I affectionately call him lumber for the way he runs. It’s sort of like a bull in a china shop. Last night I laughed out loud at him as he played with his tug-o-war rope by himself. This rope has a loop on either end and is about 2 feet long. He had the rope in his mouth at the center and was jumping around and shaking his head trying to get me interested enough to play with him. At one point, he had gotten each of his front paws in the loops, sort of like a hobble for a horse. He couldn’t quite figure out what to do, but continued to pull and shake the rope, tripping himself over and over.

When we first brought the little one home, he would stalk Lumber and pounce on him (still does in fact) trying to incite him to play. Lumber outweighed him by about 60 ponds then and would let him do what ever he wanted. Very tolerant that one! In fact, Einstein started sitting on Lumber, either his head or his back, whenever Lumber was lying down. Einstein will walk across the room, sit on Lumber’s head, and then look over at us as is to say, “That’s right, I’m king of this here castle.” Lumber just accepts it. For a long time I thought Einstein was the Alpha, and Lumber was a big old baby, but my neighbor mentioned something to me once after they had ‘babysat’ for us. I think he may be right. We now think Lumber is definitely the alpha, but lets Einstein act all tough; much like a big brother does with his bratty sibling. I’ve seen the few occasions where Einstein goes too far and Lumber quickly puts him in his place. Einstein immediately acquiesces and slinks off till big brother has forgiven him.

These two guys are a constant source of laughter and companionship for us, they are our boys and I really don’t know how we could live without them. Since we’ve not been able to have children, we sometimes treat them as such (NOT to the point where we treat them like kids) but we have some of the same feelings and concerns.

Not long ago, while my wife was deployed, Einstein got really sick one night. I mean really. Sick. He made it to the back door and threw up on the floor mat. I let him out for some fresh air as I cleaned up the mess (this was the most disgusting thing I’ve ever had to do. It. Was. Awful.) and threw the mat away. Anyway, I let him back in the house, made sure he had fresh water, and went to the bathroom to wash my hands. In that short time, he got sick again, this time in his bed. It was so awful I simply threw it away as well. When I came back in from dumping the hazardous waste in the dumpster, he had lost it once more by the back door (I had no idea a 60lb dog could hold that much) on the tile floor. He looked up at me with a look that said, “Dude, I’m so sorry, but I’m so sick right now…” I cleaned it up yet again (by this time I was ready to throw up too) and then sat there and rubbed his head and made sure he kept drinking water. He lay there looking at me with his tail flicking, letting me know how much he appreciated my efforts. I figured that if he was still sick in the morning, we’d run down to see the vet. Luckily, the next morning he was fine and running around like the little imp he is, tormenting Lumber with a renewed vigor, as if to make up for those few hours he couldn’t find the energy to.

These guys drive me nuts sometimes, but not a day goes by that they don’t make me laugh out loud and that is priceless.

The Future is Secure

Stories like this one on Fox News just re-afirm my faith in the youth of America. Youth of America? Did I say that? I guess I'm officially old now, but never mind that, these kids make me proud!

Thursday, March 09, 2006

My View

The other day I made some comments about some college students parroting what is reported in the media instead of thinking critically and making decision for themselves. This of course triggered some spirited comments, and one in particular that I need to address and expand my position on. In particular, I used the example of students asking "isn’t it true that there were no WMDs in Iraq and that Bush lied just to get us in the war?" The point I want to make about this particular statement and how it applies to critical thinking is that the absence of WMDs is only part of the story.

To get to the crux of the argument is that Bush lied about WMDs to get us into the war in Iraq. Forget about the reasons why he supposedly wanted to get into the war, I want to focus on the argument that he lied about WMDs to get us there.

To understand this, you need to know a little bit about the intelligence available at the time, and how it’s interpreted. We had lots of intel, in fact, we ALWAYS have lots of intel. So much in fact that on average, the amount of intel gathered on a daily basis, is so large that it would one person 18 years to go through it, analyze it, interpret it and make a recommendation. Eighteen years; that’s 37,440 man-hours (40 hrs a week x 52 weeks x 18 years). Granted, we don’t have a single person doing this, but you can figure that even if you had a team of 100 people, it would take 47 days to process ONE days worth of intel, and intel gathering continues 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It’s a wonder we’re able to do as well as we do.

Add to the equation that intel analysis is not an exact science. Recommendations are basically guesses on the part of the analyst. Guesses made by experts in their fields, based on past experience, political climate, and a myriad of other factors, but it boils down to and educated guess. In the military community, we jokingly refer to it as a SWAG or Scientific Wild A$$ Guess.

So, there is a good chance the intel was flawed. However, there’s a reasonable chance it was correct and the WMDs did exist and were either hidden or moved. I tend to think that these explanations are more plausible than they didn’t exist at all. I can hear you now; "but we haven’t found any, so how could they have been over looked for so long, they couldn’t have existed. Well, the best way to explain this is with an example.

Not long ago, there was a horrible murder out where I live where a pregnant woman was killed by her husband while she slept. He disposed of the bodies in a dumpster. He confessed to the crime within days and the police conducted a full out search of the landfill that dumpster load was taken to. It took over two and a half months to find her body. My point is this; the police KNEW where she was and it took over two months to find her in an area less than 10 square miles. Iraq is about 7,000 square miles larger than California with the majority of it being vast expanses of open, desolate desert. We have found complete military aircraft buried in the desert, to hide them from inspectors. Whole, complete military aircraft. Keep in mind that Iraq gathered intel as well and probably had a good idea of when we were getting ready to go in. They had plenty of time to hide or move their WMDs before OIF kicked off.

There are those who also say that since there were no WMDs (found), then we need to get out of Iraq. Again, I’ll use an example of why we shouldn’t cut and run since the WMDs were not found. Imagine the police get a tip that a house is being used to manufacture and sell drugs. They get a warrant based on probable cause and raid the home. Turns out, there are no drugs, no paraphernalia, no evidence at all of drug activity. Their intel was flawed. But what if they find evidence of a homicide, or find a kidnap victim tied up in the basement? Should they pack up and leave? What if they find evidence of a serial killer or child molester? What should they do?
So, back to my original point; why is parroting the stance of no WMDs being ill-informed? Technically yes, there were no WMDs found so far. They may not have even existed, but that doesn’t mean the President lied. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be in Iraq. Was the intel flawed? Possibly or probably depending on how you look at it. Were mistakes made? Absolutely. Do we cut and run because of them? In my opinion, no; I think it’s better to learn from them and make corrections, and continue to do what is necessary.

My original comments were based on a conversation about how some of the college students I’ve talked to in class don’t take the time to hear the other side, or sometimes a third or forth side of a story. They don’t make the effort to get the details, weigh them, and form their own opinion. This applies to those on both sides of an issue. What I try to instill is these young people is to look at things from all angles, get as much information from different sources (not just the ones that support their particular view) and base a position on complete information. If they do that, they’re opinions have weight. To blindly follow a party line or support a candidate because of dislike for another, is not only irresponsible, it’s dangerous. To base your position on well informed thought is how our system is designed to work.

I know there are plenty out there that will still disagree with me, and that’s fine. I enjoy disagreement. I like to hear well thought out arguments contrary to my views. It makes me better informed. I have even changed my views on some issues because of it. Like I said in my profile, I can’t stand blind allegiance to either side; but I respect the hell out of firm allegiance based on personal thought. I might not agree, but if your argument is based on complete information, I’ll lay down my life defending your right to your beliefs.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

The first Rampage for the Rampage

Okay kiddies, time for a full on rage against the machine rant from yours truly. Now I have had more than my fair share of injustices during my 23 years on active duty, but this isn’t about me. This is about some of our warriors sitting in HARMS WAY (mortar and rocket attacks) and not getting hostile fire pay. Not. Getting. HOSTILE. FIRE. Pay. These folks are assigned to units in country, receiving hostile fire, and not getting paid for it. Why?

Here’s what I know, and I’ll admit I haven’t researched much so far, but I do know it’s affecting my family personally. Evidently, you have to been in the combat zone for 30 consecutive days to receive hostile fire pay. Sounds like someone somewhere put this rule in place to prevent REMFs* from popping into the zone for a day and receiving HFP. Good idea. But, and this is a big but, what about those that live and work in the zone, but duties require them to leave for a day or two then return? Or what about some brave trooper who gets wounded and evac’d out of the AOR? Don’t they deserve the HFP for putting their asses on the line?

We have Air Evac teams in country whose job is to take the wounded, injured or KIA out of the AOR to treatment centers in Germany, we all know that. What we don’t know is that as soon as one of these missions of mercy takes off, those crew members and possibly their charges have just lost their chance for HFP. Am I the only one who is outraged by this? I mean, c’mon, all that is required to get the tax free exemption for a month of pay is to enter the combat zone! This includes aircraft that fly through the airspace, but never land in, the combat zone. WTF?

Some people VERY close to me just returned from a tour where the longest consecutive time spent in the zone was 27 days. The good news is that there are fewer mission (due to fewer casualties) than the last deployment they were on, but the bad news is they sacrifice just as much as any other member deployed there and encounter the same risks without the small compensation of HFP. Never mind that one such mission was flown ONLY because some visiting members of Congress refused to wear their seat belts and were in a car accident! They weren’t attacked; their driver lost control and these guys wound up injured through their own arrogance. I wonder what sort of allowance or entitlement they got for their few days in the zone? It just seems wrong that those that work, live, and sometimes die in a combat zone, don’t get this small compensation because of some arbitrary number thought up by some bean counter who probably couldn’t find the combat zone on a map.

*Rear Echelon Mother F^@!$r