A year later and we’re back where we started. On this great crusade in which we have strived for many months, our efforts and goals have become more nebulous than when we deployed in June of last year. In
Our greatest asset as a Stryker brigade has always been the Stryker itself. Fatigue has been a thorn in the side of commanders since war has existed. Up to the Korean War, most days were spent getting to the battle than actually fighting the enemy. With the use of helicopters and armored personnel carriers in
Quickly we learned to stay off the roads. The word overkill received a new definition when we saw what deep buried IEDs did to the trucks, limbs and lives of the men in our battalion. In the summer heat we began to dismount on the main routes and walk a few kilometers to the neighborhoods we intended to operate in. Not daring to face the bombs underneath the street, we were cut off from the life support of the twenty-two ton vehicles that were our second homes ten months prior. Water went from a luxury to scarce treasure instantly: you have only what you could efficiently carry. In the 120+ degree heat, a bottle of water that has been boiling in your cargo pocket is about as refreshing as drinking sand. But when you run out of water, the only thing left to do is drop iodine tablets into a bottle of tap water that you got from some Iraqi’s faucet. I remember reading about the practice in my basic training manual, thinking it would only apply in a theoretical situation where we were dropped in a steaming jungle and isolated for months. Never in my wildest dreams would I have guessed that in year four of The Long War, we’d be drinking treated sewage water and eating local bread because it’s all we had.
In some ways it feels like 1907 instead of 2007.
The military is obsessed with taking something and renaming it with a totally different term. A jumping jack is a side straddle hop, and any Islamic terrorist not affiliated with Al Qaeda is a concerned local. When a mission is complete, there is a rollup of killed enemies and found weapons. A rollup is another term for a summary. So I present my own summary (er, rollup) for the time my company has spent between June 2006 and June 2007:
525,600 Minutes Passed
Countless Enemies Killed and Captured
3 Destroyed Strykers
Dozens of Rifles, RPGS and Mines Found and Destroyed
2 Fatherless Baby Girls
Thousands of Rounds of Ammunition Found and Destroyed
9 Figure Severance Paycheck to Dick Cheney, Courtesy of Halliburton
3 Cleared Cities
2 Dead Friends
100,000 Contractors Making Five Times My Pay for Doing Laundry and Serving Food
Thousands of Cleared Houses
A year later and this is what we have to show for it. A year later and we care about the survival of each other more than a fledging democracy in the
A year well spent.