Friday, August 8, 2008

Redleg Adjusts Fire

My new old friend Cannoneer No. 4 sent me a comment today that I thought needed to be rescued from comments and brought to light.

Cannoneer No. 4 has left a new comment on your post "Argghhh! And The Red-Headed Stepchildren":

Have you seen A Ragtag Pursuit of the Taliban?

U.S. Effort to Train Afghans as Counterinsurgency Force Is Far From Finished

WAPO, so caveat emptor, but I can't detect much MSM bias in it.

I am, as you know, no great friend of the MSM. The young author for the Washington Post, Candace Rondeaux, did a pretty good job with this article, capturing a snapshot of what it's like for a small team like the one that I was on working with the Afghan National Police. There is also a really nice little bit of video of the team chief, MAJ Vincent Heintz, explaining what the team is trying to do.

I was a member of the first district team in the country. Now teams like the one that MAJ Heintz leads are working in areas that were never even considered as a place that a district team should work in, due to priorities.

While I have been known to rant at the media, and I think rightfully so; this article is the type of reporting that needs to be done more. I think that people need to see what the soldiers are doing on the ground. I think that the attitude of "if it bleeds, it leads," needs to be resisted. Sensationalism should be left to the rags, and papers that wish to carry the mantle of a fine news outlet need to be getting reporters like Candace out on the ground with teams like this much more often.

If someone wants me to go and write for them from the fields and trails of Afghanistan, you know how to find me.

This is what counterinsurgency looks like. It's not all that sexy, but what MAJ Heintz is doing on the ground in a little district in Afghanistan is the type of stuff that will help the IRoA to become a self-sufficient nation. He is mentoring, leading, cajoling, and demonstrating to the ANP how to become a community-based policing organization. He is helping them to develop the leadership, to keep the ANP soldiers out in the neighborhoods where they belong, being the face of a young Islamic republic.

This is how the Afghans will win the war, and how we will be more secure as a nation.

This isn't "SOCOM" or "Call of Duty" video game stuff. This is the slow, frustrating, dirty, aggravating, tedious, wonderful work of counterinsurgency. It is what it takes to be successful in nearly 400 districts across Afghanistan.

What happens in a little village in a backwater valley in Afghanistan sends ripples across the world.

Sometimes the ripples come back. When I read the article, there had been some comments posted, and some right asinine ones at that. I put down some counter-fire on them as best I could. I couldn't resist; I am passionate about this stuff. I got a letter via email this evening from a close friend of MAJ Heintz and his family.

We're talking babysit the kids type close friend. That's close.

It's a small war.

In any case, she thanked me for the cover fire, and she gave me some more details about ripples across the globe. Here is an excerpt from her note to me:

"If you could speak with Vincent for just 5 minutes you would know that he examines every personal thought and action for what is right or wrong. As a prosecutor, he applied the law equitably to all. What the article did not state is that over 180 boxes of shoes, soccer balls, and especially school supplies have been shipped to the Fighting 69th in Chahar Darreh. He believes in the future of the children. He has great respect for women."

Sounds like my tour. I still owe Rosemary a picture of the Afghan kids playing with one of the soccer balls she sent.

Some people make the mistake of thinking that because we go and serve and work with the Afghans and learn to respect and get close to them, that we agree with all of the problems that they suffer from, too. Change is incremental. First things first. Remember where we were 100 years ago.

Wendy also sent me a link to another article about MAJ Heintz in the NY Daily News. It was a nice article; but then I noticed the list of links to articles by the same author. I noticed an article about a funeral for a young NCO who gave his life in Iraq.

I have noticed a disturbing trend. Read the article. Read the comments.

Yes, I left one; and I was pissed.

Some people are using the comments section of an article about the funeral of a soldier who gave his life for principles he or she believed in as an opportunity to put forth their political agenda. Typically, that is an anti-war agenda or a rant for their candidate.

Now, I didn't go to Afghanistan to serve part of my country. I believe in freedom of speech as much as any of our liberties. I do, however, strongly find that using the report of a soldier's ultimate sacrifice as an opportunity to rail about one's particular politics is absolutely heinous and incredibly selfish. While I do not believe in government censorship except for OPSEC reasons (hey, our fathers and grandfathers had their mail censored during WW-II... I think that we can be respectful of OPSEC, too,) I do believe that the paper does not owe every Tom, Dick, and Harry to publish their selfishly political comments in a story about a soldier's sacrifice.

Censor yourselves, publishers. I call for you not to permit the desecration of a soldier's memory in the story of their funeral. There is a time and a place, and that isn't it. Let them write an Op-Ed piece. If they want to disrespect a fallen soldier, make them put their name on it. Call it respect, call it decency. Apparently there are people who are so desperately selfish to forward their agenda that they cannot control themselves. Do it for them, please.

If you read this and agree, send a note to your local paper and second my plea. Let's get the word out there that we don't find this to be acceptable behavior as a society, and we expect better behavior from our media as well.

Let's face it; we can only affect certain things. Our vote counts once, and it is one of many. None of us individually are in control of the outcome of the upcoming elections or the direction that our nation will take in the future. None of us can shut the mouth of one who is so selfish as to bend a soldier's sacrifice to their own political cry. However, as a group we can bring a groundswell of respect for what every politician will refer to every Memorial Day as our "honored dead."

Every one of the fallen has his or her first Memorial Day; the day that they are laid to rest. A hundred years from now, we will each be just another dead schmuck. Our opinions on the day of their funerals will matter not; but they will always be our honored dead.

Let's respect the memories of our brothers and sisters whose names are now on the indelible price tag of liberty, and demand the same from our media outlets.

Thanks to Cannoneer No. 4 for the heads-up, thanks to Candace Rondeaux for a good article and a really nice video clip, thanks to Wendy for the note and info, and thanks to MAJ Heintz for the RIP.


  1. I agree, using a tragedy like 911 or the death of a soldier serving in Iraq or Afghanistan as an opportunity to spout anti war rhetoric is disgraceful. It's just plain bad taste and inappropriate.

    I was against this war politically but support our troops 100%. They should be respected and their service and sacrifice honored.

  2. I've read the article and comments you mentioned. I've also pondered the reasons whereof such asinine and negative responses to the stated article.

    Granted, I'm no Rhodes scholar, but to my simple thinking I've deduced several conclusions.

    First, It's possible that I've reached the "older generation" and the respectfullness that was taught to my generation is no longer in existence.

    Secondly, It's possible that this younger "Me" generation has been allowed to speak their mind without any consequences for lack of tact, respect or forethought. The lack of corporal punishment would also come into play here.

    Thirdly, apparently the editors, moderators and webmasters are from the same "Me" generation.

    Fourth and final conclusion...
    NOT ALL rednecks and ignorant jacka**es live in Kentucky.

    PS, You are absolutely right. A hundred years from now, it will matter not.

  3. The Thunder Run has linked to this post in the blog post From the Front: 08/11/2008 News and Personal dispatches from the front and the home front.

  4. Another powerful post, and very well written. I must have skipped this one the last time I checked to see if you've posted yet. This I would have remembered. I'm off to read the articles you suggested. You take good care of your family and yourself, and God bless you.


All comments will be moderated due to spamming of old posts.