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    Friday, June 23, 2006

    On "Supporting the Troops"

    I've been thinking a lot about two things the last week in light of recent events. First, the side discussion we had the other day on supporting the troops but not the war, and second, what I see as an attempt to equate not only our crimes to the crimes of the jihadists, but our methods of waging war with their methods as being one in the same- morally. I think this cartoon says a lot about how the typical soldier or marine feels. Every morning after a good PT session, I go to the chow hall to eat breakfast. I am not alone there, the DFAC serves a wide variety of soldiers from all the 18D and SOCM students, like myself, (which include SF, SEALS, Rangers, Marine Recon, and foreign allies) 7th and 3rd SF group soldiers, and an 82nd Airborne Engineer battalion soldiers. Every morning we have a ritual of tuning the TV to our favorite anchor, Robin Meade, on CNN headline news. And every morning it's always the same as we listen to the latest journalism about the military, and the war. Lots of quiet. Lots of shaking heads, and silent disappointment. Lately, the news has been grim, well actually it's pretty much always grim. Everything from Haditha, and John Murtha, to a certain Senator accusing us of terrorizing "kids and children", to the recent proposals in Congress to completely withdraw, and most recently, my last straw, the mutilation of two of our own by the jihadists.

    On supporting the troops and not the war, the logic behind the line of thinking, in my humble opinion, leads only to ultimately not supporting the troops. I'm not saying any support by those who disagree with the war isn't welcome, and absolutely necessary, but it seems to me that eventually it leads to demoralizing the men on the ground, or the guys preparing to take their place, and, even worse, potentially endangering them. How can one support the troops, but not the mission they are on? An editorial I read today linked from today's cartoon asks an interesting question.

    "...As war critics mourn three jihadist suicides at Gitmo, we have three dead soldiers who might have met their fate simply because, after Hamandiyah and Haditha, they took too long to determine if their kidnappers were friend or foe. If they'd killed their assailants, would they now also be accused of killing "innocent" civilians?..."

    On equating us with the jihadists. A thoughtful, insightful, and brilliant friend of mine O'Cealleigh continued with the moral equivalence discussion on his blog in which he certainly jousted me from my horse in the debate. I couldn't even respond. However, though I couldn't respond at the time I still couldn't disagree more. Bottom line, it is my opinion, that many in our country are attempting to draw a moral equivalence with our soldiers and the jihadists. Was Abu Grahib horrible? Yes. Was it wrong? Yes. If the allegations are true concerning Haditha it too was also horrendous, and wrong. However, if we were to take a look at the way these jihadists treat POW's and the way they wage war then compare it to our doctrines, one thing is for sure. They are, by our Western Standards, savages. But that is still not the point. Why are they worse? Are our hands clean? No, absolutely not. However, if you were to take the Jihadists worldview, their ways of warfare, their culture, and compare it to ours. Is there a difference? I think this is essential in the debate. Everyone hates to try and make "good guys" and "bad guys", but I think it is unavoidable. Jihadists certainly have made up their mind calling us "crusaders" and "infidels". I am still finding it very difficult to articulate what I mean on the moral equivalence debate. Anybody out there got any input? Here is another interesting statement in an article linked along with the cartoon...

    "So why is it that My Lai has become a byword for brutality while Hue is a footnote? Why will Menchaca and Tucker be forgotten while incidents like those under investigation — or the grotesque theater of Abu Ghraib — will persist, fester, be written about, analyzed, become vehicles for critiques of U.S. policy, the military, or the whole of American culture? By rights these incidents should demonstrate that we are better than our enemies. We are civilized, they are barbarians. What we are fighting for is objectively superior to what they are fighting for. Our struggle is legitimate, theirs is not. There is no room for moral relativism in this war. Certainly those who view torture and beheading as acts of piety have no problem seeing it as a black and white conflict. And when faced with extremism of this sort, we should take it at face value."

    This is certainly drawing the line in the sand. I am with this guy on the moral equivalence issue.

    Lastly, it is very difficult for me to watch on CSPAN the arguments on the House and Senate floors concerning withdrawal, and come to the conclusion that the Democratic party supports the troops when the leadership of said party are the same people who not only draw comparisons to Vietnam with Iraq, but are the same people who so grotesquely "protested" (that's really not a good word for the way in which those demonstrations took place) Vietnam. It's difficult for me when I a rooting for Hillary Clinton, of all folks, to change the minds of her fellow party members. The crediblity of their claims just doesn't hold water. This is a shame, because I know we need the Democratic party. National security is the one thing that I think we cannot afford to be divided on. When I read what Al-Zawahiri wrote in a letter to Zarqawi concerning Vietnam where he explains,

    "What drives me to broach these matters while we are in the din of war and the challenges of killing and combat?My answer is, firstly: Things may develop faster than we imagine. The aftermath of the collapse of American power in Vietnam-and how they ran and left their agents-is noteworthy. Because of that, we must be ready starting now, before events overtake us, and before we are surprised by the conspiracies of the Americans and the United Nations and their plans to fill the void behind them. We must take the initiative and impose a fait accompli upon our enemies, instead of the enemy imposing one on us, wherein our lot would be to merely resist their schemes.

    I wonder how the Vietnam generation, most of all, could read this and not even consider rethinking their position. Well, for now, Hillary has. In light of yesterday's news of a terrorist cell's plot to hit the Sears Tower, I wonder if we as a people really understand the reasons we are at war. Do we? I sometimes wonder if it would take another attack to get our attention again, I hate to think that may indeed be the case.

    *big sigh*

    Okay, I'm finished. On an unrelated note. I have been slotted for 10th SF Group which is located at Fort Carson, Colorado (Colorado Springs) and Stuttgart, Germany. I am pretty excited to finally know where I'll be, kind of a morale booster. I still do not have a language assignment, as it seems higher up is trying to push me through without going to language school because I speak Italian. I am appealing this on Monday in order to get Arabic. I wouldn't mind getting out of here sooner, but I don't want to get deployed without speaking the language of my area of operation. I am enthusiatic about languages, and I am pretty good at picking them up. I really don't understand why higher up would think Italian will be useful as a defense language, but who am I to question brass? Keep your fingers crossed for me. The Ranting Irishman also got slotted for 10th Group so I am sure we'll both have some good blogging for you from there (one day) when not deployed.

    Fast Squirrel, a seasoned SF guy, had an open thread yesterday which went along a related topic to my post today, go check it out.

    The Ranting Irishman went off yesterday, be warned though, it is truly a rant.

    Shayna needs some folks to join in on her caption contest. (I'll be judging BTW)

    Patriotic Cowgirl never ceases to amaze her loyal readers with her vulnerable, and charming style.

    Go check these out before the weekend, and don't forget to put a definition in over at Waking Ambrose if you haven't tried already.

    Wednesday, June 14, 2006

    "Wrote a song about it... Wanna hear it? Here it goes..."

    The other day I went over to My Music Highway to see what Shayna was up to, as is my usual ritual, but this time I decided to enter her Song Lyric Caption Contest for the first time. It works like this: Shayna puts up a ridiulous picture on her site to which her loyal readers compete to make a song lyric to. I've been getting quite jealous of her prizes which have included a place at her sidebar, and a song or poem. Once, Shayna even sang her song to the lucky winner. Well, lo and behold, my brain got creative and I pulled off quite the ditty... Go check it out! I have been amply rewarded with a song about me written by the angelic Shayna. Grazie Shayna!

    Tuesday, June 13, 2006

    Equines, Canines, and a Ranting Irishman

    So, I think yesterday was a full moon, and I suppose TS Alberto blew in some pheromones from the equator or something. Ms. Howard, as usual, turned Waking Ambrose into a bordello, and dragged me down with her. I highly recommend both of these sites, but keep the debauchery at Ms. Howard's. She thoroughly enjoys and welcomes it. For my part, being the good Christian boy that I am, I have decided to fulfill my penitence in the form of a more humble avatar. I don't know how long it will be up, but I have a feeling it is very much in order. How did we go from the death of Zarqawi to a cyber mating ritual? It all started in the defense of a beautiful, firecracker named, Ann...

    So, back to some real posting.

    Since returning from the Reservation, we have had quite the veterinarian medicine journey. As usual, it has been a crash course. A couple of days with the horses; learning to assess, handle, and ride these beautiful creatures along with some basic veterinary care. We also trained with some military working dogs, even allowing ourselves to be attacked. We also ran two vet clinics for the schoolhouse where any military personnel and/or spouse brought in their pets for vaccines, and treatments. Thursday our training will culminate with an exam, and a good old-fashioned bar-b-q. Then I will officially have graduated and received my MOS of 18D. We were supposed to know our Group and Language Assignments by now, but Mother Army has been making several changes to the training pipeline, so we're in a holding pattern for now. All I have left now is Language school, Robin Sage, and S.E.R.E.

    This past weekend, I once again made a solo seakayaking trip. Just an onvernighter, but I decided against a rudder in order to refine my paddling skills. Let's just say I need more practice before I can really call myself a paddler. This pic is from the weekend.

    Lastly, I want to take the time to introduce a friend of mine in my class. He is a fellow SF medic, and we've both been entertaining one another through all the "traumatic" experiences. I'm not real sure how his blog will take shape, but it's likely to be extremely funny coming from this Mad Irishman. Please do go visit the Shamrock at the Illegal and Political Rantings of Shamrock7!

    Thursday, June 08, 2006

    Task Force 145 gets their Man

    Yes, it has been confirmed. Bill Roggio at The Counter Terroism Blog has the scoop on why this is important, and the impact it will have on Al-Qaeda in Iraq. Go read the link.

    Michelle Malkin has the rundown on all media outlets. An Iraqi Blogger named Omar responds as well.

    Chris At Home has a very interesting, short read on the wide array of different reactions from the News networks and other individuals and entities.

    Who is Task Force 145? They're a group of Special Operators whose sole mission was to find this man and kill him. Here is a good article from the Marine Corps Times.

    Sunday, June 04, 2006

    "My name is Jake... and I'm a blogaholic"

    So, I am in the Atlanta airport as I type. I think this is evidence that I have a new addiction with this blogging stuff. At least I am no longer in denial, that's always the first step to recovery. I spoke these words this morning. "My name is Jake... and I'm a blogaholic." It seems I'm not the only one though. I've been thinking about possibly starting a 12 step group. I know at least a few others on my sidebar that are probably still in denial, and a few who I know would join. Apparently, there is a lot of money in this business too from what I hear, maybe I could become a recovering blog addict who does speaking gigs for crowded audiences all across the world. I don't know how this all began, it happened so fast. I used to look at the internet in awe of all the info, and like a sponge, soak up the knowledge. Now, it's like some old book on my shelf and I feel like saying, "the internet? yeah, I've read it." There are also so many facets to the internet, blogging is merely the gateway drug, kinda like the internet equivalent to Marijuana. Have you heard of Myspace? Yeah, that should be called MyCrackSpace. Then there's the internet dating thing. I haven't done that, nor do I plan on it. No really. Most of the people who do would never admit to it, but everyone is definitely doing it. I go to school with a bunch of guys who utilize it all the time to meet up with gals in Raleigh/Durham. I simply refuse to give in. I think it would be the equivalent of Crystal Meth on the internet, freaking dangerous territory. I don't think one can return from such a move. I shall be like the Last of the Mohicans as far as that is concerned. Call me old-fashioned, but that's my plan and I'm sticking to it. Probably in about ten years I predict it will no longer be so taboo, well I suppose it's not taboo, but it certainly is the skeleton in everyone's closet, at least they treat that way. Okay, enough about my thoughts on internet drugs. I now digress.

    So, the last weekend in Belcourt, ND was mostly uneventful. However, there were a couple of things I saw that I would have never thought I'd see. Take for example a local bar. This bar had two things that I don't think I'll ever see again. 1) a drive thru window to buy beer 2) a place to tie your horses down if you decide to come on horseback. Yes, I watched two guys ride their horses to the bar, tie them up, and then later that night they rode their horses back home from the bar. Isn't that crazy? I also noticed that the days are really long here. It gets light at around 4AM and then it doesnt get dark until about 11pm, really strange stuff for a kid from Mississippi. I certainly rubbed elbows with the locals on a regular basis, and of course I met a few gals. One in particular, I hung out with quite a bit. She is a dental assistant, and quite the looker, but of course, there is just so much baggage. Not that everyone doesn't have baggage, but this girl had a boyfriend and a child that I didn't find out about until recently. It seems that I always run into such situations. I meet the craziest girls. The last rotation I asked out a fine young lady who ended up "having a girlfriend". Yeah that was awkward. She wasn't gay, she was bi, but "in a relationship" What the hell? -over. I hope this is entertaining to all of you, I'm in a good mood and thought I'd share some candid humor.

    I'm really glad to be back in civilization again, I just checked my voicemail and had about 20 messages. My phone hasn't had a signal in 4 and a half weeks which makes for a lot of pissed off friends. So, now I'm about to kill some more time making phone calls. The experience overall in Belcourt was great. Everything from the medical training, to the hanging with the local natives (literally) was fantastic. However,I wouldn't recommend it for a vacation. Oh yeah, did I ever mention I stayed in a Casino Hotel? Let's just say I got to refine my Texas Hold Em skills which I haven't utliized since Fraternity Poker night in college. Good times. I'll post some more serious stuff later. I find out where I'll be stationed tomorrow- pretty exciting. Hopefully I'll get 10th Group in Colorado or Germany. *fingers crossed*.