The boys from South Carolina have arrived. They got here yesterday, and they seem like a good bunch of guys... but they take up waaaay too much space in the chow hall. They are the group that I thought that I was volunteering to go with when I sent in my application to do the ETT mission. Surprise! I wound up with these guys. I'm glad, really.
We got to fire the foreign weapons on Saturday. AK's, RPK's, and SVD. Fun. The AK is an amazingly primitive weapon. I was in the last group to fire and we got tagged with helping to clean them. I go to work to do my usual cleaning job on an AK and the instructor said, "You're cleaning it too much, you're going to mess it up." What?
We are trained to clean our weapons. With the AK, they said to just spray it down with Powder Blast (an excellent product from the good people at Break Free,) and wipe it, then spray it with WD-40. Insane. The AK is a bullet processor, plain and simple. It will knock the crap out of you, but it is simple as a hammer and pretty much as effective. It's not the most accurate thing in the world, but at 200 meters, you can hit what you shoot at. The M-4, on the other hand, is very accurate and very nicely made. It is also simple, but not crude. The AK is just plain crude. But it works every time you squeeze the trigger. It is made to be operated by cavemen.
Kalashnikov was a freakin genius. Right up until you look at his other designs. He got lucky the the AK-47 family. It is simple, crude, and incredibly reliable. The Russians understood from experience that most combat takes place at ranges of less than 300 meters. So they made a rifle that is useless beyond 300 meters and fairly effective below that range. You can't pick your spot with the AK, but all you have to do is touch someone with it and they have a new project to work on.
I still like my M-4. I can pick my spot at ranges less than 200 meters. I can hit small targets with it. People very rarely show you much when you are shooting at them. Usually just their head, perhaps their head and shoulders. I know that I can hit that at 150 meters, no problem. The M-4 has to be kept clean, though. You can't just spray it down and wipe it and be done. You have to take it apart and clean it. I've never had a major problem with it. This one is brand new.
Today we will shoot the Mk (Mark) 19 automatic grenade launcher. It fires the same warheads as my M-203, but it fires them much, much farther. More powerful charge to the cartridge. It will rain grenades down on your foe at 1800 meters (one and one eighth miles.) It was designed for the navy during Viet Nam for the riverine patrol boats. It was so effective that the Army bought it. We mount it on humvees. I probably won't have one in Afghanistan. But today will be fun. And if I ever need to use one, I will know how.
Other than that boring weapons stuff, I am healthy and relatively emotionally stable. I really miss my kids, and I miss my friends a lot. Sometimes I feel really lonely and like there is nobody other than my kids who really gives a crap... but I can't share those types of feelings with my kids. That would be emotional incest. It would be nice to have someone to share the feelings with. It's okay, though. That type of thing is a luxury. My life is simple, and it's a good thing. It keeps me from feeling like I have too much to live for to be doing what I'm doing. It keeps me humble, and like I'm not so precious that I am too important to be put in harm's way.
The simple reality is that I am expendible. We are expendible. We are the expendibles of society. This war is so wierd. You have a huge sector of society... it seems to be about 90%... that is just about completely unaffected by the war. It's not like there's rationing going on or anything. It's not like there's a draft. They just have to watch it on TV. Mostly that's about Iraq. I was literally asked, "Is there still a war in Afghanistan?"
No. There is no war in Afghanistan. I'm on vacation.
It's these guys that I'm spending every day with... hundreds of them... and there are thousands more just like them... that are the expendibles. It's not that we want parades or anything, and there are people out there that feel that they are supporting us by demanding that we "come home." We feel very disrespected by all of that. The protestors do not honor us, they disrespect us. We are grown men who believe in what we are doing.
Cindy Sheehan does her son no honor at all. She disrespects him in the extreme by claiming that he was duped, that he was abused, that he was unwittingly thrown into a blender by some conspiratorial power beyond his control, that he was caught completely unawares by some giant vacuum cleaner, siphoned out of his comfortable and promising young civilian life and spit into a lethal dustbag by an evil cabal. She is delusional, but she shames her son. He was a grown, if young, man. He made a choice. This country exists because of the hundreds of thousands of (for the most part) young men who have made the same type of decision that Casey Sheehan did and paid the ultimate price.
Or... he was an idiot; a simpleton who had no idea what comes out of the end of the gun with the little round hole in it. A moron who thought an IED was something that was used as a particularly dangerous method of birth control.
Idealistic, perhaps. But the real shame is that Cindy uses his memory as a pawn in her own particular game of Munchhausen's by Proxy. Poor me, I lost my son. Look at how it hurts. Poor Casey.
Nobody makes the choice to do their part with the idea in mind that they are going to be one of those who pay that price. They know that it is a possiblity, though. Paraphrasing Patton, it has been said that wars are not won by giving one's life for their country but rather by forcing the other guy to give his life.
If anything happens to me, please please please do not shame me in such a manner. Do not parade me as part of some cause to stop, or halt, or withdraw, or appease. I do not believe in those things. I believe that this nation will suffer more as we attempt to withdraw. I believe that if we do not begin to prevail that my sons will be fed into this effort piecemeal.
We are a nation of Short Attention Span Theater. We want quick, we want not to be bothered by having to watch this night after night on the news. We are easily bored. We are our own worst enemies. Before I left, one of my co-workers expressed, "I am just so tired of this war!"
Tired? Of what? Are you tired of the fuel rationing? Is it the meat rationing? The blackouts? Shoe rationing? Scrap metal drives? Saving fat to make explosives? No... it's tired of watching the evening news. Bored with seeing the ongoing story of what goes on in (mostly) Iraq. We are a nation with no stamina. We easily tire of any effort. We are just like what the enemy says we are... weak, weak-willed, fat, lazy, prideful, and ignorant.
Yes, Cindy... it is quite possible that your son's life was wasted; not because he wasted it, but because you are wasting it with every speech you make.
My life, and the lives of these hundreds I see and the thousands I don't are on the line so that you have the right to waste your son's life with your free speech. We are here so that you are free to dishonor his sacrifice and ours.
It's okay... I'm on vacation.