They Said It Better Than I Ever Could...


These words that I write, they keep me from total insanity. -Charles Bukowski

Who is the happier man, he who has braved the storm of life and lived, or he who has stayed securely on shore and merely existed? -Dr. Hunter S. Thompson

Feb 25, 2009

Fifth Graders Can Be Fun...

A person back home asked me if I would answer some questions from a bunch of 5th graders. I said sure, this is what they came up with, and this is also what I came up with in response. Hopefully, some of these questions are ones you might be curious about also. Their words are in regular typeface, my words are big and black. You probably could’ve figured that out on your own, but I thought I’d tell you anyway.

What if America loses the war?  What do you think will happen in Afghanistan and Pakistan?

Well, I don’t think that anything will change in the States if we lose this war. I don’t really know for sure that we could lose this war. About the only thing we could do is leave prior to our mission here being complete. The people that we are fighting against really have no chance of beating us militarily. All they are trying to do is wear us down, politically. What I mean is they are trying to turn the American people against this war so that the politicians won’t give the soldiers here what they need, or the time they need to accomplish the mission. If they do that, then the politicians will pull all the Americans out of here and they will win. If they don’t, then we will stay here until we can turn this country into a viable nation.

I say that we need to stay here until our mission is complete.

Do you think we will find Osama BIn Laden before he dies?

Honestly, I don’t know. I don’t know for sure that he is even still alive. If he is, then it is just a matter of time before someone finds or kills him. However, he is of little concern in the grand scheme of things because he is elderly and sickly, not to mention there are so many people looking for him that the terrorists probably can’t use him for much. There is not much he can do because the US is still looking for him so fervently. The guys that we have to worry about are all the younger guys that are rising through the ranks and are beginning to fight against us here in Afghanistan.

Will America be slaves if bin Laden wins the war?

Well to this one there is only one response. You don’t ever have to worry about that because there are plenty of guys just like me who will NEVER let that happen.

Do we know where bin Laden is hiding and have we tried to go into the caves where he is hiding?

A lot of people have been looking for him since 2001 when this whole thing started. And whenever we think we know where he is we go straight there and look around for him. Just no luck finding him so far.

What is the purpose of bin Laden hiding there and  being a terrorist?

He hides here because he needs a place that is safe from the US. He probably doesn’t hide here in Afghanistan, most likely he hides in Pakistan. Which makes it all the more difficult for us to find him because we are not allowed to go into Pakistan and look for him. He is a terrorist because he blames the US and the west for all the problems that face Islamic nations in the Middle East and elsewhere. He believes that the US, due to its greed, is destroying the world to feed its own consumption. He also doesn’t want to see any nation with freedom, because in his corrupted view Islam is the only form of government that there should be, and Islam is the only form of religion there should be. So he thinks that since the US doesn’t adhere to either one of those ideas that we are evil. Well, sorry pal that’s just not true. So get back in your cave.

Is his family in hiding too?

Actually, most of Bin Laden’s family has disowned him and denounced everything that he does.

What is your day like - what things do you do during the day?

Most days I get up before the sun comes up, I get my Humvee ready to go, I get all my weapons ready to go, I get something to eat, and then we roll out to go find the enemy. We patrol around looking for the Taliban, and al Qaeda, we go to villages to take them clothes, food, and other things that they need. We help train the Afghan National Police, and the Afghan Army, and the Afghan Border Patrol so that they can fight the Taliban themselves. We also try to keep the roads free from IED’s so that the people can move about freely without any danger.

Have you ever been shot and how does it feel?

I have never been shot, so I don’t know how that feels. However, I have been shot at and I’ll tell you that it is a scary experience. I don’t really know how to even describe it.

How did you enter into the war - why were you and your unit sent and not someone else?  Who makes those decisions?

I was in a National Guard unit in Waukegan, Illinois and another unit from Illinois, this one out of Freeport was activated to go to Afghanistan. I volunteered to go with them. I don’t really know why this unit was sent and not someone else. Most likely, it was just our turn. But those decisions are made by Generals and the politicians in Washington and Springfield.

Why did you join the army?

This is a good question. I joined the Army because I wanted to do something for my country. I wanted to go to college. I wanted to see the world. I wanted to get out of my mom’s house. I wanted the adventure of it all. There are so many reasons that I couldn’t possibly list them all. I don’t have any regrets about it though, and I have loved all of it, well almost all of it.

Are the planes being  bombed?

Nope, I think you might be asking if the planes are doing the bombing. Which they are. They fly by and drop bombs on any target that is designated for them or they drop them on targets to help us when we are getting attacked by the enemy. Most times they just fly over and the threat of getting bombed is enough to get the enemy to run away.

Do you do a lot of training during the day?

Unfortunately, no we don’t. There is entirely too much work for us to do.

And from the teacher - 

What is your mission there?  Your point of view vs. what you have been told.

We are at a remote Forward Operating Base near the Pakistani border. Our main mission is developing the Afghan Army, police, and border patrol to the point where they can fight the insurgents on their own. Sadly, we end up doing most of the fighting for them. The biggest problem is that there is so much corruption within the ranks of their government that for every two steps we take forward, they take three steps back. Most Afghanis hate the Taliban, but the problem is that they hate the government that we installed just as much if not more.

My point of view vs. What I have been told is pretty simple. We don’t get told much, we are just ordered on this mission or that mission. Never are we given the guidance or reasoning that we should get. We are left to our own devices to figure out exactly what is happening here. I honestly believe that it is a sort of institutional ignorance. They do it on purpose, if we don’t know enough then we can’t form our own opinions. Once this became a political war, which most wars are nowadays, we were doomed. There is a lot of good we could do here. However, the politicians and the senior officers (politicians that wear uniforms) don’t have any tolerance for the dirty nature of war. There is a need here for so many soldiers, but they only send us 18,000 or whatever it is. It’s becoming a modern Vietnam. My viewpoint is this, if you are going to do it, then do it. If you don’t have the stomach or resources to do what is needed then don’t even start.

What do you think of the civilian companies coming in and doing whatever jobs/functions they are doing?

I hate these guys with a passion. They charge the United States government exorbitant amounts of money to do something that soldiers could do for next to nothing. I have written about these guys in the past. They are nothing more than mercenaries if you ask me. War profiteering at it’s finest. This is a war and as such there should only be soldiers and military personnel here. The only jobs that I think civilian companies should do are those where the skill set required is so specialized that the government could not efficiently, or cost effectively provide a worker to perform that job. Otherwise, soldiers should do the work. However, the government has decided for whatever reason (I think “helping out their buddies” is a big part of it) to give soldier work to civilians, when the civilians charge a few hundred grand a year to do something that a soldier would get paid about $40,000 per year for.

Would it be OK for me to print out some of your old postings and give them to the teacher? 

Go right ahead, just make sure that any identifying remarks are removed. I still have to watch it with the whole disrespect thing. No need to get into any more trouble. That, and make sure you remove all the profanity, there is no need for the kids to have to be exposed to my language.

Some of the questions she was asking I know you talked about in older postings, and it might be easier than back and forth in e-mail.

You should probably just let her read my blog, give me her address and I’ll allow her to read. She could probably get a better picture of what I am talking about that way.

Be prepared - answering these questions may open the floodgate.

Bring it on. I just hope that the teacher and the children can handle what I have to say.

Thanks a ton for taking the time to do this!!!

No problem, it gives me something to write about other than how screwed up this place is.

Deb

Now I am done.

Later,

I love you mom...

P.S. Anyone notice that I didn’t use profanity. Not even once. That has to be some kind of record.

4 comments:

  1. Your Mom will be so proud of you!

    ReplyDelete
  2. I am very impressed with how you answered these kids and the teacher. You give them insight into what you do and why, as well as reassurance for their own future.

    I was impressed with the lack of profanity, as well. :-)

    ReplyDelete
  3. WOW - those 5th graders are in for quite an education. lucky them.
    marian

    ReplyDelete
  4. Outstanding post! No doubt, you made your mom proud!
    By the way, I posted your pictures on my blog and have received some great comments! I'll e-mail them to you!
    ~AM

    ReplyDelete