Saturday, August 18, 2007

Stupid Shit of The Deployment Awards!

At the end of our fifteen month deployment, it seemed fitting to resurrect the Stupid Shit series started over a year ago under the gray Washington sky. I envisioned a weekly edition but quickly realized a deployment is a constant parade of ridiculous, asinine, over the top moments that are too numerous to keep track of, and much too difficult to explain in full.

These entries come to you in a fury of writing during the few precious days we have inside the wire. Ever since Baghdad we’ve left the comfort and safety of our huge bases to venture out into the city for as little as two or as much as eight days at a time. There is a direct correlation between the amount of operation activity and the amount of stupid shit that gets piled onto us. As the workload increases, so does the shit, eloquently described as stupid here on out.

Most of the candidates for Stupid Shit of The Deployment, then, come from our stay here in Baqubah. Our operation tempo went from back breaking in Baghdad to soul crushing in Diyala Province. Gone were the days of adequate rest for the trucks and ourselves. Often we’d spend five days out in an Iraqi’s house, sleeping on the roof with lice infested mats and pillows, only to come in for a scant few hours for fuel and a shower (if time permitted). For reasons unknown to anyone, we’d arrive as the chow hall was closing and everyone would make a mad dash for the scraps left over. Stupid, indeed.

So without further ado, the nominees for Stupid Shit of The Deployment:

Working with 1920s – A Sunni insurgent group we’ve been battling for months, responsible for the death of my friend and numerous attacks, agreed to fight Al Qaeda alongside us. Since then, they’ve grown into a much more organized, lethal force. They use this organization to steal cars and intimidate and torture the local population, or anyone they accuse of being linked to Al Qaeda. The Gestapo of the 21st century, sanctioned by the United States Army.

The Surge – The beefing up of ground forces in Iraq at the beginning of the year, started by the 82nd Airborne. Unit deployments were moved up several months to maintain a higher level of boots on the ground to quell the Baghdad situation. What most don’t realize is the amount of actual fighting troops in a brigade, something in the area of 2,000 soldiers in a brigade of 5,000 depending on what unit it is. So for every 2,000 fighters, there are 3,000 pencil pushers sucking up resources in every brigade that was surged. A logistical nightmare that, surprise, failed miserably. The increase of troops in Baghdad pushed the insurgents to rural areas (like Diyala), hence our move here in March. The surge was nothing more than a thorn in the side of nomadic fighters having to move thirty five miles while the generals watched Baghdad with stubborn eyes.

Two Companies Clearing Baqubah – Which brings us to the next nominee. Since Baghdad was the showcase of the war and Baqubah was brimming with super IEDs taking our Bradleys and Abrams tanks, it was decided that a unit needed to be sent there to assist the cavalry unit who averaged a death per week. But how many to send? Someone, somehow, somewhere decided that two companies of Strykers would be adequate to take down what Al Qaeda had deemed their headquarters in Iraq. What came about this oversight? Two hours into the first mission, my friend was killed in a massive IED blast that busted the hell out of the squad leader’s face, resulting in traumatic brain injury and facial reconstruction surgery. The vehicle commander tore his ACL from the concussion. Shrapnel being thrown around the inside of the truck caught one dude in the knee as a dude in the back hatch got rattled around, bruising his back as the other in the hatch was thrown completely out the vehicle. He’s been quiet since then, and was sent home soon after. Returning fire from us and the Bradleys killed an untold number of kids unlucky enough to be in the school next to our position. A wrecker sent out to pick up the destroyed Stryker was the next victim of an IED explosion, killing two men inside. Two more wreckers were sent out, one for the Stryker, one for the now totaled wrecker. As we pulled out that evening, local Iraqis, men, women and children, danced in celebration by the massive crater where the Stryker had been. At once we realized reinforcements were needed but we didn’t get any for two more months. Many more men were killed because we were stretched to our operational breaking point. But there was always more to do. Whoever made the decision to send less than an infantry battalion should be in jail right now.

The Extension – This wasn’t too much of a surprise to us, as we knew in the back of our minds that an extension was in our future. What was surprising was the fact that everyone in Iraq was extended to fifteen month deployments. It was meant to give every unit at least a year in between deployments, as some were coming back to Iraq after only ten months back in the states. Now at the end, it’s not hard to assess the achievements of our three extra months. It seems at a quick glance that we pacified the city, street by street. There was a lull in American deaths because, simply, we absorbed all the bomb blasts or found the IEDs before they could detonate on us. As deadly as they are, deep buried IEDs must take a lot of time to build and emplace. The ones used against us were meant for the cavalry unit, who didn’t have the manpower to patrol the streets like we have been. After we arrived, there were few bombs that haven’t been sitting in the ground for several months already. The enemy ran out of ways to kill us until the ingenious idea of putting bombs in houses took hold. Instead of blowing us up in armored vehicles, they thought about doing it inside an abandoned house. What kills you isn’t the bomb, but the foundation of the house that comes crashing down after the explosion. Wires and triggers are hidden behind doors or underneath rugs, so when we go out and clear blocks and blocks of houses, there’s a pressure plate waiting for you at the foot of the stairs. Only your eyes can save you at this point. That tactic has been born from our proclivity to redundantly clear neighborhoods, and the extension is guilty of claiming lives of men who are running on too little sleep, walking into house after house in the desert heat. When you’re worried about how much water you have left and the trucks are too far away to get more, you tend to miss the trip wire in the dark stairwell. Twelve month deployments are a burden on your body and mind. Asking men for three more months is not only unfair but deadly.

Seven Men Killed At The Same Time – Finally, one of the lowest, saddest points of the deployment came in May. One night, a helicopter spotted several men gathered in the road with a large object. Permission was asked to fire a Hellfire missile at them, as they were obvious IED emplacers. Permission was emphatically denied, but someone decided that a Stryker platoon should head out there anyway to check it out. In tow was a Russian reporter. On a road called Trash Alley, they hit a massive deep buried IED. Everyone in the truck except the driver, six Americans and one Russian, dead. And they didn’t need to be there at all. A helicopter could have killed the insurgents with breathtaking ease. Instead, those guys and the one with the detonator got away in the night. Justice was never done.


And now the moment you've been waiting for. The (dubious) winner of Stupid Shit of The Deployment is:

Two Companies Clearing Baqubah!


While each nominee was unique and shameful in its own way, this outshined them all in how much death and maiming occurred after the fact. Sure, the surge was the cataclysmic event that brought about everything, but the decision to go into the Al Qaeda mother ship with less than a battalion of men was one of the most reckless, foolhardy missteps of the Long War and should go down in the history books as such. In a few weeks we’ll be coming back to the states without our brothers because someone saw a chance for glory and decided to take it. I hope the full birds and the stars were worth our blood.

What has been bothering me this whole deployment is the brevity and formality in which the media handles the death of soldiers. It always goes, “PFC John Smith, Norman, Oklahoma, killed by enemy small arms fire in Baghdad. Assigned to 1/43 Engineers, Third Infantry Division.” What a crock to read that in a paper. It would be wholly appropriate to dedicate a full color photo and a real biography in every paper in America. The anonymity of dead soldiers would evaporate and the public would be forced to look at the faces of the fallen. Would it set in progress change? Perhaps. It certainly would go to show that we’re out here every day, dying for an ideal long forgotten. As for me, I started to sign these entries with my initials long ago to avoid detection by superiors. I could and still can get in trouble for what I’ve written. Lately this blog has been passed around to dudes of every rank, and those who would be punishing me have become readers. So it’s no longer necessary to be sneaky and secretive, another anonymous soldier. My name is Alex Horton, and I’m a 22 year old from Frisco, Texas. I can recite Pulp Fiction line by line and my favorite color is blue. I want to be a journalist when I grow up, and I want to see every part of the world. For the first time in my life I’m an avid reader. Fifteen months here has been fifteen months away from Lauren, the girl I’m crazy about. This wouldn’t be much of a blog without her, as she’s the inspiration for anything creative coming out of me, my beautiful muse.

In the future, I want my children to grow up with the belief that what I did here was wrong, in a society that doesn’t deem that idea unpatriotic.

Herbert Hoover said, "Older men declare war. But it is the youth who must fight and die." These are the young men we can’t afford to go without. Brian Chevalier and Jesse Williams, George Bush and Secretary Gates, we’re all flesh and blood. Every life is sacred. You probably don’t know the names of the first two. But you should.

AH

125 comments:

Jeff said...

Thanks to you, Alex, more people will know about Chevy and Jesse, whose untimely deaths have left huge holes in the world and in their little daughters' lives. And for what...?

Come home safe and soon.

Love,

Dad

Bluesflower said...

Bravo Alex!

Like your Dad said, come home safe and soon.

Love and respect,
Sandy

Samantha Hagenston said...

Hello. It's very nice to meet you, Alex Horton, 22, Texas whos favorite color is blue. Be proud of yourself... This isn't one of those "I'm so proud of you" schpeals... this is an, Alex you should be proud of yourself because you stuck to your opinion and delivered it to so many people. This is a schpeal about the fact that you've been placed in an absolutely horrendous situation which will ultimately "make or break" you... and you trudged your way through it... keeping a sort of sanity and level-headedness. Be proud of that. You will be home soon. You will get to see Lauren and your family... and i promise they miss you oh so much. Keep your head down and eyes up... it's the last stretch...

WIth Love,

Samantha

sonnycollie said...

Alex, I am a blues musician, a friend of your folks.

I've enjoyed reading your blog very much as part of my wide reading on Iraq.

I know you are pissed about what you have ended up having to see and do there.

Well, you're liable to be even more pissed when you get home and find out to what a great extent the war doesn't even exist for many Americans. And you're going to be pissed at all the skewed views of the war held by many who do follow it through the information sources available to them in the mainstream.

That’s a whole other disaster story right there.

I hope you get in the habit of counting to ten and letting it all roll off your back. What has happened in Iraq is bigger than you, bigger than anybody's ability to grasp. It was a reckless and crooked exercise that may in the long bitter end, if fortune plays any part in it, result in a better Iraq.

I almost hate to admit that possibility, because I knew enough Iraq history to demonstrate in the streets against this war before it began, and to be able to see what would happen if it did begin, and then to suffer through seeing it all happen, only maybe worse.

But man, those errors are not on you. You went thinking to do good and then you were there. That's war. I am Vietnam generation and we didn't need to do Iraq to learn these lessons, but it's done now. Maybe we will pull out soon, for the sake of all the other Alexes still in the shit.

I reckon the Iraqis will do as well without us… maybe better. Most of them just want to be left alone and not killed at this point, but some of them can be rather cruel and ass-kicking people, and I predict they will make al qaeda very unwelcome, whether or not they resolve their own ancient internal hatreds.

Come home, muster out, rest, heal your mind and body and get on with your life. You have made your Iraq contribution not only as a soldier but also as a writer and a truth-teller.

Good job, Alex. All right.

sonnycollie said...

Alex, I am a blues musician, a friend of your folks.

I've enjoyed reading your blog very much as part of my wide reading on Iraq.

I know you are pissed about what you have ended up having to see and do there.

Well, you're liable to be even more pissed when you get home and find out to what a great extent the war doesn't even exist for many Americans. And you're going to be pissed at all the skewed views of the war held by many who do follow it through the information sources available to them in the mainstream.

That’s a whole other disaster story right there.

I hope you get in the habit of counting to ten and letting it all roll off your back. What has happened in Iraq is bigger than you, bigger than anybody's ability to grasp. It was a reckless and crooked exercise that may in the long bitter end, if fortune plays any part in it, result in a better Iraq.

I almost hate to admit that possibility, because I knew enough Iraq history to demonstrate in the streets against this war before it began, and to be able to see what would happen if it did begin, and then to suffer through seeing it all happen, only maybe worse.

But man, those errors are not on you. You went thinking to do good and then you were there. That's war. I am Vietnam generation and we didn't need to do Iraq to learn these lessons, but it's done now. Maybe we will pull out soon, for the sake of all the other Alexes still in the shit.

I reckon the Iraqis will do as well without us… maybe better. Most of them just want to be left alone and not killed at this point, but some of them can be rather cruel and ass-kicking people, and I predict they will make al qaeda very unwelcome, whether or not they resolve their own ancient internal hatreds.

Come home, muster out, rest, heal your mind and body and get on with your life. You have made your Iraq contribution not only as a soldier but also as a writer and a truth-teller.

Good job, Alex. All right.

SB said...

God bless man. Make it home safe.

Sean

Carla said...

Alex: You will definitely return as the "respected man" you alluded to in the previous blog. Your observations have made this war very real and even more tragic than we and many others could grasp from simply following it in the media. Looking forward to your return and best wishes to your comrades.

Anonymous said...

ALex-

Fronm the it is a "Small World department" My son is with the 1-23 Strykers and has spent the last couple of months on the other side of Baquba.....and I also live in Frisco, Texas. You have very eloquently put into words a lot that has gone unsaid between Jake and I during the last 15 months. You have helped "fill in the blanks" for me. Jake and I will read this post together in a couple of months when he is home for good and I am sure he will say that you summed the situation up very well. Just found your Blog through "a post on STyker Brigade News web site. Both your Dad and I will be very glad to tsee the 3rd Brigade home.

Come home safe!

Ron Boudrot

Anonymous said...

Hello Alex-found your blog through the Stryker Brigade News link.
First, thank you for the exhaustive and difficult work you have done.
There are people back home who continually dig for the news and try to educate folks about this war. Unlike the MSM. Our family has someone special in the brigade replacing yours. This entry has helped shed light on what he currently faces for the next 10 months. Continue to write, pursue your dreams, nnd if possible, allow the time for your spirit and soul to heal. You are a warrior, and you will bear witness for those who will not make that journey home. Be patient with ridiculous questions that will be asked. But do not hesitate to tell your stories to compassionate listeners.
Those who have not experienced your hell can listen with an open heart and help with the burden.
Safe journey home soldier,
Cathy B

t4toby said...

Hey, Man, great blog.

It is good to see that there is reality out there beyond the spinning wheels of the corporate media.

I barely have any readers, but I blog rolled ya anyway....

T4Toby

Susan Wardezak said...

Alex,

You know, I like to say I have "old" army mom skin, but your posts always make me cry.( What you describe Alex, our family has been living through right beside you & your family (only up north) We ARE THE CALVARY.
I remember that night in May, I will never forget. Our soldier will be home soon hopefully, and we will be one of the lucky ones.(I carry guilt over this, like ONLY a mother can:( Towards the end of your blog you stated, you would like to see more play in news about America's fallen. How true. As a mother and as an army mom, perhaps I have a special perspective, but It galls me to no end that the antics of BS, LL and the other loosers in trashwood get more play than our American Soldiers fighting in as I like to call the hell hole. Sorry for ranting..but if you only knew how many nights i stand before the nightly news and scream!
I will never know all the brave men and women who died serving this country, but I promise you Alex, I will not forget their sacrafice or yours.

Thanks again Alex for your bravery and for your blogs...

KIA from B Co 1-12 CAV in Iraq
SPC Berg, Ryan R. 9-JAN-2007 KIA
SPC Sieger, Eric R. 1-FEB-2007 KIA
SPC Comacho, Leeroy A. 9-FEB-2007 KIA
SSG Ross, Eric 9-FEB-2007 KIA
SSG Shaw, Alan W. 9-FEB-2007 KIA
PVT Spencer, Clarence T. 4-FEB-2007 KIA
SPC Trussel, Francis M. 26-MAY-2007
SGT Martinez, Anselmo III 18-MAY-2007
SPC Nash, Casey W. 18-MAY-2007
SPC Romero, Joshua G. 18-MAY-2007
SPC Nguyen, Dan H. 8-MAY-2007
Rest In Peace, We all miss you and will never forget you

philman said...

Thank you for writing these things. People need to hear all of this and more. Your integrity and bravery are inspiring, and you are having an effect (I read about your blog in the LA Times).

Stay safe!

Chris said...

Hello Alex. I learned about your blog from the L.A. Times also.

In our American managed news culture it is too easy to be insulated from reality. Being bombarded by professional liars, the public grows weary.

And yet as we exercise our choice to select our sources, perspective changes.

Thanks for using your voice. To me it is full of honesty and courage. May your experience continue to enlighten others.

bromhead said...

Hang in as well as possible, not everyone believes the PR line of BS about the war from the politicions and the generals.
Volunteer,vietnam,Coppell tx

Anonymous said...

You're a good writer.

Keep it up, both for your sanity and your future.

(I'm a technical editor and former journalism student, so I'm not just talking out of my a**.)

Diane said...

I am so sad and sorry for all of this Iraq mess that you brave men and women are stuck in, I am not surprised at any of your words as I have known the problems for years now, closely following the war.
Sad also to say we will have to wait until 2008 to hopefully have an end to this if a Democrat wins...if a Republican wins, I cannot even imagine what those war mongers will propose to do.

Anonymous said...

Alex, I found out about your blog after reading an article in the Los Angeles Times, of all places. The title of the article is "Morale dips as some GIs say leaders are way off base"....turn to page A6 and the title of the same article reads "Some troops remain upbeat about their mission in Iraq"!!!

I immediately went to your blog, and it blew me away. Are you sure your not some 50 year old from a blue state? You can really write!!!!!

I have forwarded your blog to my son and daughter,husband, sister and nephew, and many friends.

This is too good not to be shared.

Come home safe. Keep writing. You're terrific.

My thoughts are with you and all our other soldiers out there.
I'd bring you all home right now if I had it in my power.

Much love

Linda

Anonymous said...

Alex, sorry about the 50 year old from a blue state comment.

I meant to be humorous, not condescending.

I think you're great.

Linda

Thomas Fowler said...

Thanks, Alex. You give me hope.
TF

Anonymous said...

Nice blog.

But I suspect it was a big mistake to reveal your personal details. The Army still owns you and the government is likely to not take too kindly to your honest assessment of their idiocy.

Thom said...

Telling the truth, an unpopular ignominious truth, takes even more guts that much of what goes on in the battlefield which is Iraq.

One thing you wrote in the last post struck me especially deeply.

Despite being in a meaningless situation, my life has never had this much meaning. I watch the backs of my friends and they do the same for me.

You know what your mission is. Take care of yourself so you can take care of your buddies. That you find the time, and again the guts, to lets us know a little of what really going on... that's above and beyond the call of duty.

(Is that something the military teaches you?)

BZZZT said...

Great! I would be proud to have a son like you Alex.

And thanks for your heart and mind as well as your service to our country (under the most despicable of reasons: lying greedy sociopathic bullies with a focus on OIL and profits being the real bottom line).

I can relate on the level of being a thinker and questioner in a culture of non-thinking, non-questioning, only follow orders (the south). Plus I used to be a neighbor of sorts, lived a long time in Southwest/NM.

Your profound quote should be shared far and wide: "In the future, I want my children to grow up with the belief that what I did here was wrong, in a society that doesn’t deem that idea unpatriotic."

I add my hopes to the others: Do come home safe and sound.

In deep abiding solidarity.

PS: I added your site to mine blogroll BTW.
Buzzzed Blue
.
.
.

Alan said...

Alex, as our nation suffers a pestilence of flesh-eating lies from comfortable, cowardly government gangsters, profiteering villains, and media shills, your courage in speaking truth to power humbles this veteran. Our nation needs people of your calibre now more than ever. Be safe, dear patriot, and know that we the people want you back home with us.

Kathy said...

Alex,

I just discovered your blog -- like the other poster, from reading the article in the Los Angeles Times about low morale among the troops.

You write really well, Alex, and what you're writing is important. Not many are saying these things. I hope you keep at it. I hope you come home safe. I *really* hope you come home safe.

I am so sorry about the death of your friend. It must hurt a lot. Please know there are people here who are making an effort to understand what you're going through.

You wrote about the perfunctory way soldiers' deaths are treated in the media. I couldn't agree more, but I also want you to know that sometimes just reading names can be meaningful, if it's done out of the intention to turn these deaths into individual lives and not just numbers. In my synagogue, the rabbi has started a new practice of reading aloud the names of all the U.S. troops who died during the preceding week. He reads their names, their ages, and where they come from. I've always been against this war, but still it makes a strong impact on me when I actually hear a dozen names, or however many it is that week, read off one after the other. We're talking about just one week. And that many American soldiers died? It makes it more real for me, and I'm sure for others as well.

It's a commonplace to tell soldiers they are brave, and of course it's true. But I want to say to you that I admire the courage you show, not just in being in Iraq, but in writing what's going on there, as you observe it, even if it's not what the higher-ups want us to think it is. I admire your courage in taking that risk, in caring enough about what's true to write honestly about your experiences.

May God bless you and keep you safe, and may you come home soon, to Lauren and to your family.

Kel said...

I have just stumbled upon your blog tonight and think it's stunning. Good for you for telling it like it is. There are many, many people out here who support the troops and are enraged at the situation these f@ckwits have placed you in.

You get home safe. The US needs people to tell the truth like it never has before.

Anonymous said...

Keep your head down, come home alive and in one piece. Oh, and I wish that we the voters back home could have managed to give you a sane civilian leadership, one that would bring you home now. It is one of my great regrets as a citizen.

I don't know how you can pick any one of those incidents as more stupid than any other. They are all moronic beyond belief.

Interesting surprise in this post for me... I wonder if we could be distant cousins, the Hortons in Florida (orig. Vermont) have a major offshoot in Texas.

Whether we are or not, again, please stay as safe as you can, and come home soon, alive.

Leisure Society said...

Come up to Canada if you run into problems vis-a-vis telling the truth.

Daniel Neun said...

Hey Dude.
At least some people in Germany now know who you are.
http://www.radio-utopie.de/index.php?themenID=864
Thanks for your..
well, just thank you.
Stay safe, stay alive and get back to your muse, man, I wanna read more from you in my life. Maybe one day we´ll write for the same online-magazine.
Peace, Daniel Neun.

Jason said...

Terrific blog, deserving of audiences far and wide. You made this war real to me in a way that thousands of televised "news" reports haven't.

Anonymous said...

someone linked your blog from this site: www.forumosa.com

I have to say I'm really glad they did. I've really enjoyed reading your posts. I wish you all the best, and a safe trip home to Lauren and your other loved ones. God bless you!

Anonymous said...

Okay, Alex, I thought I could get by with one brief post, but I can't stop thinking about you and this blog.

See, I'm a mom. My son is only 4 years old, but he'll be a young man one day. I feel that it's an intollerable insult that each and every death of an American service man or woman isn't news. We get a single sound bite, usually, "embedded" so there's no time to dwell on it, just as you mentioned. It's like raping the whole family, in my opinion. But how can this be?

I speak to my friends often of how you'd never even know the U.S. is at war. People complain about the price of gas each and every day, and associate this with the war. The price of gas is more real to most Americans than the lives of the sons and daughters, father and mothers of their neighbors. How can this be?

As a mother, I can't understand why there aren't thousands of American families camped out on the white house lawn. One mother tried it in Crawford, TX, and they made her look pathetic. How can this be?

What we do see and here are things like the army mulling over a plan for dress blues, to look more like all the other branches. And that causes an illness to churn in me because I've met families who have had to buy and send flack jackets and rifles to their sons. How can this be?

So, what you're doing is priceless. Your statment that you want your children to grow up believing what you did in Iraq wrong, and in a country that doesn't see that belief as unpatriotic is stunningly insightful.

Wright it on a banner. That's a mission we should all aim to accomplish.

Peace!

Lori Stone
loriachen@yahoo.com

Wordlover said...

Like so many other commenters, I am impressed by your skills as a writer, and wish you well in your future career.

I also wish you the best in the remaining time you'll spend in Iraq, and hope you come back safe and whole.

I, too, opposed this war from the start. I fear for our country with these fascists in power.

Anonymous said...

You shouldnt have published your information. While the purpose is noble the results wont be. For now youre safe but should your blog become fodder for a democratic congressmen to push an issue that doesnt align with the administration be prepared for an onslaught. Youll be buried without so much as a peep from any media outlet that can actually reach the american populace on a large scale.

That said, thanks for writing, while i personally find pretty much all blogs to be overhyped trash yours alone makes its invention worthwhile. It never ceases to amaze that while we are living in the most connected time in history, where communication to anywhere in globe at any time is within reach of so many people there is a huge gaping hole on what is truly happening in Iraq. The truth is impossible to get to ever since the political handlers figured out that the way to beat an unstoppable flow of information was to simply heap piles and piles of more information on top of it. The end result - more conflicting unsourced information than one human mind is able to grasp.

jb virata said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
jb virata said...

Dear Alex,

I have read parts of your blog and have enjoyed getting your perspective on Bush's Oil War. Please come home alive and with all of your marbles, as you have the gift of the written word and I want to read your book about this war.

Anonymous said...

My niece was with the first Guard unit into Bagdad.

I am a 57 year old man who was in your situation on the Laotian-Cambodian-Vietnam border 38 years ago.

My father is 92 and was with the Third infantry division in the first wave at Anzio in 1944.

It would be our honor to shake your hand when you return.

Anonymous said...

I very much hope you go into journalism. As a journalist myself, I can tell you that you have the writing skills -- and the toughness -- to do very well. Take care.

-- Wirestone (nhwordsmith@gmail.com)

mozart99 said...

can we talk, robert weller, associated press, denver, rweller@ap.org

Judge373 said...

God bless you sir.

Anonymous said...

Seriously, the world needs more American's like you...

A healthy protest has worked wonders for many countries..Americans sure have the numbers, so now it's time for the guts to stand up for what you believe in...

I am perplexed at the lack of fierce protest in America..

Anonymous said...

Few soldiers remember that they're still allowed freedom of speech as we civilians are. THANK YOU for exercising this right and responsibility. The typical milblog spouts the same old canned Rove-approved speech that bloggers feel is safe to post. You are doing a great service to America simply by sharing your experiences and opinions. (And it doesn't hurt that you're such a talented writer!) THANK YOU!!! Wishing you all the best, and a safe and speedy return home.

Gary said...

Great write up. You seem to know your way around the keyboard pretty well.

cephyn said...

There is nothing I can say that would even come close to the value of your words, Alex. I can only hope the army will, instead of punishing you, realize the unnecessary danger our soldiers are in, and fix the problems.

Much respect to you and your mates.

Ethan Herdrick said...

Thank you for your service and your public writing. Make it home safe.

Anonymous said...

Great work, truly great. We need to hear more truths like this, not the whitewashed, 30 second version on ABC News. Stay safe and keeping writing, soldier. You'll make a great journalist someday - actually, I think you are one already.

Dana Hunter said...

Alex, I just discovered your blog through thecarpetbaggerreport.com and I'm going to be spending a good part of my weekend reading it. I just want you to know right now: I'm proud of you for doing such a great job in such incredibly shitty circumstances. Thank you. Thank you for serving our country, and thank you for speaking out.

Don't ever hesitate to tell us strangers here what we can do for you. I know most of us are oblivious to the realities of what you're going through, but one thing I have heard from every person I've talked to: we love you, we're proud of you, we want you home safe, and we want you to know we care. We just don't know what you need from us, and we're too often afraid to say so, for fear of saying the wrong thing.

So: just let us know.

Good luck.

Anonymous said...

rad read.

militant said...

Excellent writing, Alex. You have a rough edge, but speak clearly to the reader. It's a very effective combination, given the subject material. You'll make a fine journalist when this horrible war is over.

As a young person who was lured into voting for Bush twice, based in the first instance on his (now clearly meaningless) rhetoric about small government and a humble foreign policy, and in the second on a prayer that he just got smacked by 9/11 and lost his footing, I apologize to you and everyone serving in Iraq. They were my first presidential votes, and I will always regret them and feel a sense of shame.

I do not know what your political views are, nor do I intend to preach to you on such matters. You're doing more for your country (even if it is a wrongful war) than I am, and I will give you the respect you deserve. But I do ask you to take a look at Ron Paul. Many in the military seem to like him quite a lot, largely due to his anti-war stance I would expect, and you might find yourself among them.

Whoever you choose, and whatever you do, I appreciate the efforts you make, and I wish you well. Thank you for your honesty and service.

Bob Shrader
militant0@gmail.com

Kulpims T'Dna said...

I'm from a country that has gone through war and all the shit politicians throw around on TV and make ordinary people go and do insane deeds. All I can say to you, Alex, is stay safe and stay brave cause once this shit's started it usually tends to stay the course...
But things change, they always do, and some day you'll know that events of this war were something beyond your control and you just tried to do the best you could to ride it out.
Take care. Write some more, you're doing good.

Anonymous said...

Hi Alex,

Your ending paragraphs reminded me of an african expression of greeting I've heard before "I see you".

Taken from a blog post I found while googling for a good explanation of it:

"Among the tribes of northern Natal in South Africa, the most common greeting, equivalent to “hello” in English, is the expression: sawu bona. It literally means, “I see you.” If you are a member of the tribe, you might reply by saying Sikhona, “I am here.” The order of the exchange is important: until you see me, I do not exist. It’s as if, when you see me, you bring me into existence. This meaning, implicit in the language, is part of the spirit of ubuntu, a frame of mind prevalent among native people in Africa below the Sahara. The word ubuntu stems from the folk saying Umuntu ngumuntu nagabantu, which, from Zulu, literally translates as: “A person is a person because of other people.” If you grow up with this perspective, your identity is based upon the fact that you are seen – that the people around you respect and acknowledge you as a person." (http://joelittle.typepad.com/dinosaur_thing/2006/05/i_see_you_a_gif.html)


I see you Alex.

Tom Wright said...

Great post. If you need a journalism job at the end of service, drop me a line.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for giving us some of the real stories about what is happening in Iraq. I wish you the best. (Unfortunately, I'm not as brave as you and am posting this as anonymous.)

Edd said...

A summer afternoon while sitting under a tree, staring off into the horizon with cool breezes dancing through their hair, our founding fathers day dreamed about what the future would bring for their great experiment.

With eyes focused to infinity, a slight smile developed when they envisioned the citizens who would protect the Constitution, and thus protect the rest of us from tyranny.

They were dreaming of you. You are the American for which the Founding Fathers knew they could place their faith in; the logical, outspoken, proud, and strong...American.

Good luck my fellow American. I am doing what I can back here to support all of you without supporting the illegal motives behind sending you and keeping you over there.

Godspeed.

Anonymous said...

Alex,

You paint a very powerful word picture of what things are like in the war in Iraq. Through links on your blog, I discovered another blog, "Riverbend" done by a young Iraqi woman, describing what life is like for the Iraqi people. You both tell the same story, from different perspectives.

If reading of blogs like yours and hers were more widespread, the hue and cry against the war would rise to a deafening crescendo. And the government, by use of the accommodating media, could no longer get its way.

God bless! Come home safe.

Anonymous said...

Alex,
I spent 4 years in the USMCR and 4 years in the IL-ARNG, from '74 to '82. If you think that what's going on now is stupid, you should have seen it then! The abortive raid into Iran which was personally directed the most collosial moron ever to be call POTUS, Jimmy Carter. I certainly don't agree with Bush about fighting this war on the cheap, but he's far better than Carter. Say what you want but pay for your duty far surpasses anything paid in prior wars. When I served a full time service man fresh out of bootcamp got just over $100.00 per month! My father who flew in WWII was an officer, got both combat and flight pay received $23.00 per month!
And before anyone jumps to critize me, my oldest served in Iraq and had his Humvee blown out from under him, fortunately he survived. I have nothing but compassion for those who've lost loved ones. I have nothing but comtempt for a government which continues to fight this war on nthe cheap. The Isrealis have a anti-rpg system which the DOD will NOT purchase, the army brass refuse to make every effort to ensure the latest body armor is used. However, in the grand scheme of things it's light years ahead of my time.
The only advantage we had, was a POTUS too afraid to use America's military.

FatDaddy aka Sarge, LT, Hey! you!, Dumbass, Dad, Dear, Pops, and Danimal

mike said...

Alex,

Extraordinarily written blog - you have a blossoming talent that will be a boon to any established journalistic enterprise in the future - keep it up, man.

Regardless of the lunacy, thank you for your service to your country and your sacrifice. Come home safe.

Anonymous said...

Alex

Thank you for your service and insight and patience with the idiots who sent you into this clusterfuck.

I too, hope that you make it back to the states safely and that you'll continue to write about your experiences in Iraq. Re the fallen: Every three or so months, The Washington Post publishes a photo and a brief bio of everyone who was killed in Iraq and Afghanistan. It does make very real the carnage of this war.

Stay safe
Sharon

khalifa said...

I hope you get home safe, get to see the world and fulfill your ambition to become a journalist. With a writing talent like yours it shouldn't be a problem.

What you are forced to do right now may be wrong Alex, but you never will be.

K

Kevin Hayden said...

Man, you are grown up and you are a journalist. The validation of a paycheck for your prose is an afterthought to all the evidence currently before us.

You want to see the world? I can't grant that, but if you get to Eugene, I'll show you a lot of Oregon.

Our guv, an orphan and ex-Marine, has quietly attended the funerals of most every fallen person who served in Iraq and Afghanistan. There are honorable people in politics, as in any profession, though their numbers seem so very few.

I'll never be able to undo all the BS you and your buddies have had to endure, but I can throw a steak on the barbecue for you and your muse, hand you each a brew and thank you for your service to your buddies and to the truth.

Jules: The path of the righteous man is beset on all sides by the iniquities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil men. Blessed is he, who in the name of charity and good will, shepherds the weak through the valley of darkness, for he is truly his brother's keeper and the finder of lost children. And I will strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger those who would attempt to poison and destroy my brothers. And you will know my name is the Lord when I lay my vengeance upon thee.

Mark in LA said...

Alex, I see some good came of your deployment - you are now an avid reader! Besides that, I am afraid the mission is FUBAR.
WE do pay attention to the casualties. I am saddened everyday by the numbers 2, 1, 14 in helicopter crash.
I do what I can to influence my elected representatives to bring you guys home. But, I feel like crying when I look at how little progress we are making to end our involvement in this Civil War. I was called up for the 1st Persion Gulf War - but they only pulled me out for 5 months. 15 months would have totally sucked. I'll keep fighting. You keep surviving. We do remember you. We haven't forgotten. http://www.democrats.org/page/community/post/markhainds/CX7B

Another Mom said...

Got a link to SSOTDA, Army of Dude from a DailyKos.com diary. They regularly post stories of the people that the DoD notifies us about. The diary is IGTNT (I Got the News Today).

The wounded pass mostly unnoticed.

From an 04 e-Mail sent from near Baquba: Too much to do, too few to do it. At least in 04 we were getting some 'real news' instead of the antiseptic version of Americans at War.

A new poll of IA voters said that 85% of DEM and 51% of GOP voters want us out of Iraq in the next 6 months. Hope someone is listening or at least figuring out how to get MRAPs built and delivered.

Stay safe.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this. More of us *have* to have a view from the ground...so we can do our best to express our pride in your service and your work when you come home...

A civilian, trying to understand

Anonymous said...

Hello Alex. Your blog makes for astonishing and surreal reading indeed. Very much a case of "you can't make this stuff up". Thanks to the wonders of technology, someone like myself (I live in New Zealand) is able to read your thoughts about what it is like to fight in Iraq. James Hillman in his book "A Terrible Love Of War" made the point that civilians who cannot, or refuse to, acknowledge the horrors of warfare suffer from a "failure of imagination". I would like to think that efforts like yours go some way towards furnishing the rest of us with the ability to begin to comprehend in a small way just how heartwrenching and bizarre your situation is.
The government of my country decided against joining the "coalition of the willing" which I think was the right decision. However I am still angered by the sheer senselessness and waste of the lives of the men and women who are fighting alongside you right now. I was bought up to believe that on occasion it is necessary for countries to go to war and that we should live our lives in a manner that would make those who choose to fight for us proud. The fact that what is happening in Iraq seems so unnecessary is a perverse inspiration to work harder to live a better life. I am not a believer in the various Gods that people worship- I feel that that life is profound and humbling enough already. But your deeds are sacred Alex. I hope as many of you as possible make it out of there with bodies and minds intact.

Karen van Hoek said...

Hi Alex

I'm one of those strangers who never would've heard of you but now has come to read your blog. Mostly I just wanted to say that I'll be praying for you to make it home safe and sound -- and soon. And also that you're an amazing writer and the things you have to say are things the whole country needs to hear. Be safe.

Paula Dunn said...

Alex, Thanks for truth! Stay safe and keep writing.

Anonymous said...

Alex,

I'm 22 and have a beautiful girlfriend, just like you. I couldn't imagine being over there. Too painfull to even think about.

I would like to say this to you - get out of there. Get out of Iraq. Shoot yourself in the foot or do whatever is necessary. We've already lost 4,000 too many of our best men in this conflict. I don't want you to be one of them. Get out.

d said...

my 20 year old came home from working at the zoo as a Jr Zoologist (during this summer between his 1st and 2nd years in college abroad) and began to sob because an oppossum he loved had died (a natural death).
how can we take such tender, brave souls and force them to kill indiscriminately?
while we waste their future ($4,000 a SECOND)we destroy their present and deny them their future.
Shame.
Shame on the Democrats (over 600 American children have died since they took power in Congress) as they have supported the ongoing, endless war- Nancy Pelosi hasn't met with her constituants since Jan. 06) and shame on the Republicans for their selfish, oligarchical, elitist priorities; hubris before humans, profit before people.
we could be so much better; i believe Americans ARE so much better than this administration - i want Alex's children to have an intact Constitution, not the shattered remains we have now.
thank you - be brave - or better yet - just leave AWOL and call the GI Rights Hotline.

Decline and Fall said...

Really great stuff here. I bounce arounf Iraq a lot and I find that most of the guys on the ground are as cynical and pissed off as you are.

I hope you keep blogging after you get home. I'll keep reading.

Linked and blogrolled.

working gringa said...

Alex,
Got here from the LA Times too, which I read from my new home in Mexico. The behavior of my country's government appalls me, but people like you make me proud to be American (not something I feel often these days). Keep writing and keep safe. There are millions of us out here trying to get you all home safely.

-ellen

Adam said...

Word!

Peter said...

Keep pushing, almost there! I was a high schooler during Vietnam. It hurts me to see the same insanity going on again -- did we learn nothing? Or do we forget the pain too quickly? Some of us never backed Bush's craziness.

Come home safe and soon, all of you guys. We owe you more than we can ever repay.

markg8 said...

Alex thanks for your blog. I agree with all the other sentiments about your safe return and I look forward to reading more of your writing in the future, hopefully in the years ahead when you're being paid (handsomely) to do it.

I have a question for you. It's really for the 1920s and other Sunni insurgents who are ostensibly on "our side" fighting Al Qaeda. How do they feel about Sadr? Do the Iraqi Sunni insurgents see him and his Mahdi Army as enemy #3 after Al Qaeda, and the US or do they consider them other nationalists they can and will work with to overthrow any puppet government we support?

Anonymous said...

Hello Alex,
Nice to see that nothing's changed since Vietnam.
The idiots are still in charge and now they have reached a new level of insanity.
How can the celebrity general du jour do counter insurgency without speaking Arabic?
You are more than grown up. You'll be a great reporter.
The majority of the people here at home are not stupid.
53% say they don't believe Petraeus.
I hope you continue a blog when you get home.
Be careful,
Maude

Alex Bakst said...

Alex, please know that you have my utmost respect and admiration on two counts: (1) you're there, in Iraq, risking your life every day, something I'm not sure I'd have the guts to do; and (2) you've got the courage to write about it!

You write with great clarity, honesty and humor. Keep it up, dude! I'm certain you'll make a fabulous journalist one day.

(ab)

Steve Field said...

Glad I stumbled upon your blog. You've got a new fan.

Teaeopy said...

There's no shortage of stupidity over there, only part of it in Coalition military command. Our family member in the Tigris River Valley noticed that even pre-surge.

You should revisit your view of support personnel. I don't believe there's a 3:2 ratio of “pencil pushers” to front line combat personnel. There are many essential functions without which you would not be able to patrol or fight effectively. Some troops who have your back aren't getting due appreciation. Some of them will not be shy about letting you know that when you get back, if you come forth with the same derogatory terms.

Despite all the losses, risks, and hardships you and your company have experienced, you'll have some combat veterans telling you how much worse they had it. It's an old problem among those who consider military service as primarily a proving ground for themselves individually.

I just gave you a couple of things to think about. Take care and come back even smarter.

Anonymous said...

Just in case you are still monitoring this, Good luck mate.

Only just found out about your blog through a fellow Aussie grunt and found it very interesting to read. I've eaten the same dirt you have and I've always felt sorry for you Americans - your politicians, gadget obsessed armchair generals, and paper pushers waste more resources and kill more soldiers than the locals, just to make things 'safe' for the mercs and companies to rip off the locals.

Your blog has even crossed countries now!

LFT "MC" SAS (Australian, not the Brits) - somewhere in the Mid-East.

Delarius said...

May ye and yours be blessed Alex. Your blog is greater than politics. Winning is keeping faith, and getting you and your people home.

Abu Muqawama said...

Hold your head high, brother. Thanks so much for your service.

68W said...

Overall a good read, but dude,
why are you talking shit about the pogues and fobbits? Leave your bubble of Infantry misery for a moment and remember you volunteered for combat arms. PVT Susie wanted to be PAC Clerk. Boohoo.

SoldierNoLongerInIraq said...

Verisimilitude. You captured pretty much my first two deployments. All the pencil chewers you described when they drink at the VFW will magically turn into scout snipers or cooks who went on super-secret missions.

Enjoy.

Christos said...

Well, what can I say. I am on the other side of the hemisphere here in Brazil, originally from Greece and I have a little idea of what you may be going through as I have served in the Greek army for 23 months and I know the devastating effect that a single bullet can do to a human being ... but what you have gone through and still are going through is far from that.

It is a shame that people like your self, with such clear minds and full of life are put into harms way.

I have started reading your blog from the start and I can see that your experience in Iraq has matured you very much. It is very good that you are giving your version of what is going on, on the ground and away from what the media wants all of us to believe that is happening in Iraq.

I wish somehow all this could go away and all the bloodshed currently taking place in Iraq will stop, for the sake of the Iraqi people, all the foreign soldiers and the future of that region in general.

Unfortunately you are stuck in a situation that you have no other option than to defend your self and the one standing next to you, even if it means doing "morally" wrong things. Moral starts kicking in afterwards, in peace time when you are trying to find your old self and this is the REAL tragedy ... how many people are psychologically scared by this "war". Because those psychologically scared are in the 100,000 of thousands region and not in the few thousands that have died (dont get me wrong i do not underestimate the loss of human life!).

Sorry for the long post but I just wanted to put across my thoughts on what you have written.

Again thank you for your blog, you are truly courageous to come out like this and tell the truth.

I hope you and your friends return safe and well to your homes and families.

All the best,

Christos

RubDMC said...

Hi, Alex

I linked to your post here.

As others have said, come home safe. Also, please tell all of your buddies that we love them, and that we want them home safe, too.

Patrick said...

Alex,

Thank you for saying these words. It seems you have learned some hard truths about the way the world works. Please continue to tell us back home.

I know it is going to be really hard, because how can you explain your experience in Iraq to the people back home. But remember that there are many who want to understand ... and many more that need to understand.

We cannot allow the politicians to do this to us - or to another country - again.

Fasteddiez said...

Alex:

Good post. RE/ media treatment of KIA's, the Los Angeles times publishes stories of the California fallen, sometimes 1/4 of a page in length. They should set an example.

Anonymous said...

Alex,

Thank you. You bring home the human cost of this war in a way that few are able to. Please know that there are many people here who do read the papers, who do read the names and who do grieve for those lost in the Long War. My prayers are with you and your family and with the families of those whose stories you so ably told.

Your blog has been noticed by the media and you might start getting some attention. There are people at home who know what you've been through because they were there as well. Get in touch with them, get in touch with others who survived this and get some guidance and help, especially if the media storm comes your way. These people can help keep you grounded, cuz they have been there and they know. Write if you need names and contacts. There are people who can be there for you when you need it.

Be well and keep your head down.

Tim said...

Alex,

I'm sorry. I'm sorry this country is sedated. Keep writing!

Anonymous said...

You have a lot of talent as a writer. I pray you return safely.

Tomahawk Soldier said...

I couldn't help but notice the fact that you left out the part about baqubah being out of control, even with your long prescence there until the arrival of 1/23 INF. in two weeks the city was under control and running smoothly. I don't mind if you write about events of iraq, by all means, let the crap we do be known. but don't take credit for things you didn't accomplish. it tarnishes the reputation of your unit, and only serves to make you look the fool when you get busted out by the people that really did it.

Jeff said...

Re: Tomahawk Soldier's self-aggrandizing comments, I suppose that if the stalwarts of 1/23 INF had been sent to Baqubah back in March, they would have singlehandedly whipped the city into shape and there would have been no need for Operation Arrowhead Ripper.

Alex's Dad

Adrian said...

Found this from Abu Muqawama. Great post.

You want to be a journalist when you grow up? You are grown up, and you already are a journalist. And a good one.

Anonymous said...

I somewhat agree with tomahawk on this one.Jeff, For your son to say that Baqubah was cleared by 2 Infantry companies is ridiculous..not only is that tactically imposible bordering ludicrous..but plain NOT TRUE, I understand your son being upset at the loss of fellow soldiers and even embelishing for blog-sake...but if you are going make such claims at least make them believable. If I remember correctly..the 82nd ended up clearing a lot of the leftover palm-groves that 5-20 was "supposed" to have already cleared, 1-23 cleared at least half of the city..and 2-35 out of hawaii cleared some too..wow,just off the top of my head that's 3 battalions right there. Look Alex, having been there in Baqubah myself (before and after Arrowhead Ripper) I can say that without a doubt..as dramatic as you want people to take your blog..YOU AREN'T BEING HONEST..You ARE talented and I give you props, but I'm in the same Brigade you are in and I'm ready to get home too, but unlike you, I'm not complaining about everything and everyone. Fact of the matter is that you don't have to be here if you don't like it..nobody made you sign the dotted line and join the rest of us, maybe you should get out and leave the army to those of us that believe in what we do. I for one DO want my kids to know that I fought in this war and that it WAS the right thing to do. I liked your blog in the begining, but your left-wing propoganda and now lack of honesty has lost you one reader and I hope many more.

SSG Hardley C co. 1-23 INF

Jeff said...

Sgt Hardley, the point that Alex is trying to make is that two companies was an insufficient force to be sent into Baqubah in March with the mission of clearing the city. He did NOT make the claim that these two companies actually cleared Baqubah. Go back and read it again. Neither did 1-23 get it done in two weeks all by themselves, as Tomahawk seemed to imply. It wasn't until multiple battalions arrived many weeks after Alex's unit that the clearing process began in earnest.

Alex's writings are just one person's point of view. Not everyone is going to like what he has to say, especially some of those at the scene like you and Tomahawk. But I'll bet my paycheck that you and Tomahawk will keep coming back to the blog just to see what Alex comes up with next.

Alex's Dad

Anonymous said...

"Someone, somehow, somewhere decided that two companies of Strykers would be adequate to take down what Al Qaeda had deemed their headquarters in Iraq. "

Seems clear to me. And for the record, AQI never "declared" Baqubah their capital until a week or so before Arrowhead ripper even kicked off..when 5-20 was originaly sent to Warhorse, Baqubah wasn't even On anyones radar..in other words nothing out of the ordinary was happening there. This is war. For you to imply that the higher echelons send men to their deaths without hesitation is ridiculous. I have lost several friend in this war and for your son to imply that it was for no good reason pisses me off to no end. Your son is an E-4 and thinks like an E-4 but bitches and complains like a private. Instead of blaming the chain of command for their deaths, how about blaming the enemy. We are in the buisness of soldiering and I'm very proud of what I do. Your son is good at writing and I suggest he leave the soldiering to those of us that are actualy soldiers. Your son sounds more like Andy Roonie than an infantrymen.

SSG Hardley

Anonymous said...

Alex will come back safe, live happily and ever after.

SSG Hardley, please go shoot yourself if an IEDs didn't get you.

Anonymous said...

SSG Hardley says "For you to imply that the higher echelons send men to their deaths without hesitation is ridiculous".

Why? Its not as if it's never been done before.
What do the architects of this war know about sacrifice?
Not like you and Alex. I'm sure.

The People versus the Powerful is the oldest story in human history. At no point in history have the Powerful wielded so much control. At no point in history has the active and informed involvement of the People, all of them, been more absolutely required.

Stay low and crack a book sometimes. Sarge

Jeff said...

Sgt Hardley, you and I will have to agree to disagree on our respective analyses of the Baqubah situation.

And to the "Anonymous" poster wishing SSG Hardley a bullet or an IED, your comments are disgraceful and you should be ashamed of yourself.

Alex's Dad

Anonymous said...

"Why? Its not as if it's never been done before.
What do the architects of this war know about sacrifice?
Not like you and Alex. I'm sure.

The People versus the Powerful is the oldest story in human history. At no point in history have the Powerful wielded so much control. At no point in history has the active and informed involvement of the People, all of them, been more absolutely required."

Only someone non-military, who has never sacrificed themselves or ever had to ask any of his men to sacrifice would say something THAT ridiculous. I can stomach Alex saying that better than I can you. We EARNED that right. No leader in the military that has been here and seen first hand how war works is ever going to take his descisions lightly....why do I even bother, if you aren't here, you arn't going to understand..
Too Alex's dad, I guess we can disagree and that's the beauty of it, fair enough. I think your son has had some shitty squad leaders and that might be why he thinks the way he does.

SSG Hardley

SSG Hardley

Anonymous said...

o the dudes of 1/23, hiya. It seems you let Army competition get to the best of you. So here's some light on the subject:
We were told Al Qaeda declared it their homebase before we left Taji. Remember, Zarqawi was killed right outside of it. Of course you didn't get the same information as us, as it was only supposed to be a 30-60 day mission from Taji, in and out. Do you know why we were sent? It wasn't because things were "out of the ordinary," it was because Apache and Bonecrusher 1/12 were losing an average of one man per week. Out of two companies, that is horrendous. As you know, they couldn't conduct patrols from lack of manpower. They just sat on MSRs and did what they could. I would know: In Tahrir, they told us they hadn't seen an American soldier on the street in two years. And oh yes, months before Arrowhead Ripper, we captured a video of an Al Qaeda parade in the streets. Nothing out of the ordinary, indeed.

As for claiming your successes, yeah right. We took over the AO from 1/12 and they fell to an outer cordon, and we went from Buritz, Tahrir, Old Baqubah, Mufrek and Katoon. In the first ten days we got into numerous firefights before I went on leave on March 25. And not puny Mosul or Baghdad fights either, but coordinated attacks with a lot of dudes. I didn't roll out that day since I was on the flight line, but four IEDs went off on my platoon alone. Seems pretty busy for a city with nothing out of the ordinary! Bronco Troop 1/14 was also there but was relegated to the same role as 1/12 though they did hold COPs (as 1/12 later did, and later abandoned). As I was on leave, they held Tahrir and Buritz while simultaneously killing hordes of insurgents in Mufrek and Katoon and clearing sections there. Mufrek Traffic Cirle was averging 100% chance of contact. We went from that to pretty quiet before you got here. Since they got word of a big operation, most of the dudes bolted, in what seems to be the direction of Kirkuk and Karbala. We left a section of palm groves? Oh my. Maybe it was because out of the first 46 days of operations with a battalion less and losing a platoon worth of guys to death or injury, we had six days on the FOB. Maybe 5/20 isn't worth the spit of 1/23, but we had heat casuality after heat casuality (my platoon was ok, others not so much). We rolled into that kind of breakneck tempo into Arrowhead Ripper with you guys and 82nd, and if I remember correctly, we handed it off to you just to clear and re-clear Old Baqubah (the worst part of the city no less) with still less than a battalion! Our C Co has been chilllllin on Falcon the whole deployment. And never once did I say the whole thing was done alone. I mentioned reinforcements, but you have to realize, from March 14 to Arrowhead Ripper in mid June or so, we were the only two line companies and we still cleared the east side while doing major damage on the west side and selectively clearing there. When I say we cleared the city with two companies, I mean we cleared it with what we had until 1/23 got there. I never said we were alone the whole time and had no backup.
If you think I embellish things, talk to my entire platoon, for as they are readers of mine. Then talk to my PL, CO and battalion XO, who all check in on this blog. Wouldn't they be the ones to bust me for lies or deceit?

Your "we saved 5/20's ass" attitude shines through, SSG Hardley, as I've heard snickered in the chow halls and laundry of Warhorse. We're in the same brigade. We're not competing.

As for my shameful soldering due to my 'left wing propaganda,' you should also talk to my company about that. We all feel that way. I suppose we don't have the stuff Tomahawks are made of.

AH

Jeff said...

Ba-da-BING! Excellent description of how it all went down!

Love,

Dad

Alex said...

To add to my defense, here is a comment my roommate and fellow platoon mate had this to say:

"Alex~ This is my first public comment on your blog, and most likely my last. I am truely proud of everything you've said on here! With the tour ending i hope you never forget what we've done here, and i vow to never forget what an inspiration you've been to the entire platoon. So, on behalf of them, THANK YOU FOR SHARING OUR STORY"

So either my platoon is a collection of liars in denial, or you got it wrong. I'll give you two guesses, but I think you need only one.

AH

Lauren said...

Alex I am so proud of you. Look at all of these readers! I love how you originally thought that no one was reading. Yeah right, I told ya so! haha. And I actually enjoy the negative feedback as well, not only for it giving me a good chuckle and for you and Jeff's clever bantering, but because it means that your words are evoking emotion from readers of every background. I think it's hilarious that the SSG said he wouldn't return and he's already been back to leave comments twice. I couldn't imagive a better name than Hardley for him. What a guy.

I miss you very much Alex and I will see you soon!!!

with love,
Lauren

Carl Prine said...

"I have lost several friend in this war and for your son to imply that it was for no good reason pisses me off to no end. Your son is an E-4 and thinks like an E-4 but bitches and complains like a private. Instead of blaming the chain of command for their deaths, how about blaming the enemy."

My name is Carl Prine. A prior service Marine, I am a reporter. Last year, I also was a Soldier, because I quit my job and joined the National Guard and fought in Anbar between Ramadi and Fallujah.

It sounds like I was leaving while you were coming, SSG.

I was an 0311 in the Marines and an 11B in the Army. I think I might know something about the infantry.

Because I know so much about the infantry, I have to strongly question the professionalism and the competence of a non-commissioned officer who believes one combat veteran's perspective of the battlefield is more privileged than another's.

I would never tell SSG Hardley how he perceived his AO, and if he tried to tell me how I saw mine I'd probably tell him to do something to himself that's anatomically impossible.

I've lost buddies, too. Guys I knew in the USMC, and Soldiers who died right next to me in Anbar. I have witnessed profound incompetence at the highest and lowest levels of command over the years, in peace and war.

Some asshattery got good men killed. Some asshattery killed innocent people.

It didn't matter that some of it was unintentional. It's perhaps more damning when it's due to incompetence, and the men in whom we've entrusted our blood so haplessly shed it.

Neither you nor I have a right to call out the SPC on what his platoon experienced. We've walked a walk, and can talk some talk, but not that one.

Nor should you lecture him about politics, or justifying political decisions that are beyond our purview as combatants.

I thought the SPC was pretty good at leaving much of the descripton of operations free of bias. He let some opinion creep in -- hell, the whole point was to award a SSotD Award -- but the narrative and the assembling of facts was pretty strong.

Let the reader judge the veracity of events. Don't try to pull rank or condemn a man for telling the truth as he saw it. If you think you can do better, then you write a story about your unit.

Alex, keep writing. You show some real skills.

Anonymous said...

Carl, you said everything I wanted to. The SSG showed real angst about me not including the details of his deployment. Well, they're in another unit. I don't even know what goes on day to day for our charlie company, so I do the sensible thing: I don't write about it. I have neither the time, patience or talent to include the goings-on of the entire brigade, just what I see and do.

Thanks Carl, you said a lot of things a lot more eloquently than I could.

Anonymous said...

Well SSG. Hardley you are correct when you say that I am not military. If my comments insulted you, I apologize.
That said I want to tell you that I DO appreciate the sacrifice that all of our soldiers have made. It is because of brave soldiers like yourself and many who came before you, that I as an American have been given the right to question our leaders.
I just want you to answer me why you say:
"Higher echelons send men to their deaths without hesitation is ridiculous"
And then reword your response to say.
“No leader in the military that has been here and seen first hand how war works is ever going to take his decisions lightly”
I don’t believe we are talking about the same people.
I know most Americans I talk to do care about the soldiers in the field. We want to know when and how this war will end positively. If there can be no win with the current strategy, then we must revaluate our assessment of the plan as well as the competence and intentions of those involved in the planning.

Anonymous said...

3,742 American or 4,040 Coalition fatalities given a single sheet of A4, profile orientation, each with a picture and a few paragraphs, inadequate though such an epitaph must be, would be 786 or 848 metres long. If you went with the 27,622 wounded (Pentagon figure) it'd be 5,809 metres of continuous paper. That's enough to line a route from the White House to the middle of Arlington National Cemetary.

Bush, Blair, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Petraeus, the lot ought to be very publicly slow-marched along that route.

Any junior mil. int. pleb with half a clue and a vague knowledge of the history of southern Lebanon could see the shit coming.

That was me, junior pleb with a clue. They didn't stop me quitting, but they did swipe my voting papers and send prospective employers some really crap references.

Anonymous said...

Sorry about The Anon Tag, its because I have no account.
My name Is CPL T.W. Leane from the Australian Army.
I have seen some brilliant commanders in our time but for each one there is a whole lot of idiots out there stuffing it up. The worst ones are the ones that cant be told on any level that they are stuff ups.
I have met and worked with many who can "talk the talk" even some that have "walk the walk" but the best i have worked with will do there job (to make sure their mates come back alive) to the best of their abbility and bitch to buggery when its all over.
So good on you, Alex for telling it like it is in your sector.
To the mouth that says its wrong to do what your doing, may he enjoy a long and happy life once the world wakes up and sees the wrongs are done by both sides.
Remember it not the right of a politition to start a War, they are voted in to run your Country, not ruin someone elses.
Look at these bastards running around abushing and planting IEDs, can you really bame Saddam for bumping off any off the Iraqis doing that shit to him and his people(just something to look at from a different piont of view). No, Im not saying the bastard was right, but also our countries leaders aint right either.
To Alex and your mates, keep you head down, gat clean and get home in one piece to live in peace.
Good Lu

Matt & Mendi said...

Hey Brother,

Incredible. It amazes us to see how much you've grown. We're happy that you have a gift to tell our story. Finaly, someone who knows more than four letter words and is honest with their writing. The Schutze family has read your blog and has been more informed about us than the media could possibly do. Mel, enjoys it too. The Mendieta family will start reading this blog because I'm tired of answering their questions; mainly because I dont know how. You've made it possible for others to know our story. Thanks man. Love ya. Now do some motherf****** push-ups!!!!

-Matt and Mendi (some of your biggest fans)

kolstad90 said...

"Sgt Hardley, the point that Alex is trying to make is that two companies was an insufficient force to be sent into Baqubah in March with the mission of clearing the city. He did NOT make the claim that these two companies actually cleared Baqubah. Go back and read it again. Neither did 1-23 get it done in two weeks all by themselves, as Tomahawk seemed to imply. It wasn't until multiple battalions arrived many weeks after Alex's unit that the clearing process began in earnest.
Alex's writings are just one person's point of view. "

One persons point of view that is trying to make a political point. And if he has his facts wrong there is nothing wrong with calling him on it. Alex was wrong, wether intentionally or otherwise, 2 companies were not sent to clear baqubah in March. A BN TF was that included(before AH ripper) HHC, A, B 5-20. B 1-14attached. A and B 1-12 OPCON.

Alex is trying to sell a story of military ineptitude that is just wrong.

Jeff said...

Alright, K-90, I've stayed out of this since your comments were previously directed to Alex, but now you coming back at me. You seem to have a real ax to grind, but I don't know what your motivations are. I could speculate that you're one of those "My country right or wrong" types that brook no dissent from your own peculiar set of beliefs. I'd bet that's the case because of your rant about Alex treasonously aiding and abetting the enemy, blah blah blah... That's horseshit. Alex has gone into exhaustive detail about what he saw and did in his AO. You're obviously military, with all your jargon and acronyms, but, "What did you do in the war, Daddy?" Where was your AO, what's your MOS, have YOU ever heard a bullet pass so close to your head that you heard the hiss before you heard the crack of the gunshot, as Alex has more than once? Have you killed in combat, as Alex has? In short, until we know your bona fides, by default I must conclude that you're a Fobbit, an REMF as my Vietnam vet brother called those who talked a lot of shit but had nothing to back it up. When I was in the Navy, we called your kind "pukes."

Here's a challenge for you, K-90. Start your own blog, tell the world about your point of view and your brutal wartime experiences. Shoot us the link so that we may be regaled by your tales of truth and heroism as only you have experienced. I can't wait.

Alex's Dad

kolstad90 said...

Sure, attack me not my points. If your son was merely passing along his war stories that would be one thing. But he is actively engaged in disauding others from from supporting the army while we are at war. Thus, I said to the extent that he is successful, he undermines fellow soldiers will to fight and fellow countrymans will to suppport the war. The end goal that he encourages is for us to lose by surrendering the battlefield to the enemy.

The world has seen the US have a long history of when the going gets tough we quit. Vietnam, Beriut, and Somalia come to mind. It will be a damn shame is people like you and your son cause us to leave before we are successful.

Again, he can comment all he wants on his experince and run his mouth about politics too. but he still hasnt earned a free pass to spout off nonsense without getting called on.

As for starting my own blog, yeah I started one earlier this yeah and got bogged down doing my fobbit, REMF, pencil pushing job on FOB Warhorse. Once i get back I will attempt to update. But i sure hope it is not to mach to ask to be able to comment on this blog. I thought thats what the leave your comment section was for? I have every right to comment as your son has, and so does anyone else regardless if they ever served.

Jeff said...

K-90,

You have a right to comment, but you don't have immunity from being challenged yourself. You're the one who attacked Alex and not his points. You called him treasonous, for one. Look up "ad hominem." You haven't refuted any his points with any reasoned thinking of your own, you just say he's wrong, Q.E.D. All we know is that you're unhappy with what he's written. So what? Who gives a hot damn what you think?

Let's just pick one issue and focus on it like a laser beam. Alex posits that two line companies were an insufficient force to be sent into Baqubah back in March to begin clearing. If you think that size force was plenty, then say so and explain why. Give us the benefit of YOUR expertise, and while you're at it, we're still waiting for you to establish your bona fides with your AO and MOS. Send us your blog link too.

And both Alex and I DO Want us to succeed in Iraq. But how do you define success at this point in the conflict? I was very pleased that the surge did so well and was hoping against hope that it bought enough time for the Iraqi "government" to finally get off their dead asses and start leading. But they went on holiday instead. I've been studying military history longer than you've been alive, and I can't figure it out. I doubt you have a workable solution, either.

Spend some time reading the 200-plus comments on Alex's last two posts. You'll see that among readers of his blog, you're in a tiny minority. I met a good number of soldiers in Alex's company last week at Fort Lewis. They had just come home from a grueling 15-month combat tour, and to a man they were very proud of Alex and his blog, telling me that they felt the same way and that they were glad that he gave them a voice. By your logic, then, every one of them is doing his own part in treasonously aiding the enemy and encouraging us to give up and lose. I'd pay big money to watch you go down to their barracks and call them out in person! Hell, I could sell that as a pay-per-view!

You can come back on here and waste everyone's time by rewording your original complaints, or you can make it interesting by coming up with some intelligent reasoning as to precisely where and why Alex is "wrong" and providing cogent explanations as to what the "right" story is. Your call...

Alex's Dad

kolstad90 said...

"You have a right to comment, but you don't have immunity from being challenged yourself. You're the one who attacked Alex and not his points. "

Yeah ,good point. That was dumb of me to say attack my points not me.

"You can come back on here and waste everyone's time by rewording your original complaints, or you can make it interesting by coming up with some intelligent reasoning as to precisely where and why Alex is "wrong" and providing cogent explanations as to what the "right" story is. Your call..."

mind if we jump to the comments section from Alex's last Blog entry for this, most of my comments are there?

"And both Alex and I DO Want us to succeed in Iraq. " No he doesnt.

"I was a struggling senior in high school when the invasion took place, and I supported it. I was mesmerized by the way we raced across the desert and took Baghdad in less than a month. War was a sleek, glossy commercial on TV, and we always won at the end. It’s easy to be for a war when you have absolutely no connection with it. Patriotism lead me to believe what we were doing was right and noble. What a difference a deployment can make.

The public can do something about this. It doesn’t have to be a hopeless cause forever. Write your Congressmen, go to a rally, read as much as you can about Iraq to see it for what it is: a place men go to lose their minds and their lives. And most importantly, love your children. Teach them that war is not honorable, it’s no plaything cast with an indifferent hand. It’s the most terrible thing man ever brought to the world. My generation didn’t learn from Vietnam, but the next one can learn from us. "

"In the future, I want my children to grow up with the belief that what I did here was wrong, "

I think it is accurate to say, Alex believes the war is a lost cause and we should leave. He encourages people to contact their congressmen to get the war stopped. He clearly is not interested in a victorous outcome, he wants to surrender he field of battle.

"Let's just pick one issue and focus on it like a laser beam. Alex posits that two line companies were an insufficient force to be sent into Baqubah back in March to begin clearing."

Jump to the comments from his last entry from Aug 29th. My point about the above is that its not accurate and alex may be purposely distrorting the size of our Battalion task force to prove his point about our leaders incompetence. He also makes it clear he believs he is smarter then the guys in charge and slams the surge as merely a thorn in the side of the enemy. You cant both bitch about the surge and complain that we didnt have enough combat power when we went to baqubah.

One point that i was trying to make in the other section of comments is that it would be a mistake to take alex's experince and apply the lessons of 5-20 in Baqubah to the entire theater. I just want people to understand that alex being an knowledgeable on company level ops doesnt make him expert to judge what should be done in Iraq as a whole.

"I'd pay big money to watch you go down to their barracks and call them out in person! Hell, I could sell that as a pay-per-view!"

I am sure everyone appreciates Alex abiltiy to tell the story of our Battalions tour as well as he has been able to. If he would have stuck to relating the Battalions story thats one thing, but he didnt.

""What did you do in the war, Daddy?" Where was your AO, what's your MOS, have YOU ever heard a bullet pass so close to your head that you heard the hiss before you heard the crack of the gunshot, as Alex has more than once? Have you killed in combat, as Alex has? In "

Does this mean that guys from C 5-20 that didnt go to Baqubah dont get to talk. Does it mean that the unit that replaced 5-20 at FOB Marez cant talk either cause their tour wasnt as hard? Again im not disputing that Alex experince combat at a level that was more intense then the average grunts. I know personally that my combat experince from the line and otherwise across multiple comabat deployments does not come close to comparing to what most line guys experinced in 5-20 this tour. But that doesnt mean he gets a free pass from me to slander our efforts in Iraq and call for our surrender. As for establishing my Bona fides, i will think about it.

Jeff said...

Thanks for your non-answers. You're one of those inveterate posters who fall under the category of, "Often wrong, but never in doubt." And since you arrogantly presume to know better than I what my son thinks, you and I have nothing more to discuss.

Alex's Dad

kolstad90 said...

I think it would be impossible to convince you that I know more about the Army and war then you or your son. So, I will adress your non answer comment. I think you were refering to my lack of an answer to what success looks like. This topic is a sore subject for me since the government has done such a poor job articulating it.

I saw an interview post 2006 election of Sen Bill Frist(the old Sen Majority leader). He was asked this very question and couldnt answer it! What an ass, one of the top leaders in government during war should have damn well been able to answer the question. All the guy had to do was google "nation strategy for victory in iraq".

Victory in Iraq is Defined in Stages
Short term, Iraq is making steady progress in fighting terrorists, meeting political milestones, building democratic institutions, and standing up security forces.
Medium term, Iraq is in the lead defeating terrorists and providing its own security, with a fully constitutional government in place, and on its way to achieving its economic potential.
Longer term, Iraq is peaceful, united, stable, and secure, well integrated into the international community, and a full partner in the global war on terrorism."

That was put out in 2003! Yet some GOP supporters of the war dont even know the goals. Incredible.

But I suppose you asked me what I think success in Iraq looks like. Well after multiple tours over here I am tired of deploying; this last tour being exceptionally difficult, here is my SELFISH look at what success should look like.

Dear Iraqi's, we have bleed 5 years for you to peice your country back together following the conclusion of the war your country started in 1990 by invading Kuwait. We are leaving your cities. We are going to leave forces in Iraq adequate to secure your borders and prevent outside influences from hindering your progress forward.

Im no expert but I think it would take around 10 BDEs to secure the borders if US troops manned the check points and were allowed to kill anyone without warning attempting to cross into iraq that didnt go through a check point. If we did this, im not interested in having us forces train Iraqi's forces using the MTT model. Their would be no way to insure they are safe.

However, I am not sure we should give up on Iraq yet. I think the goals the white house laid out in 2003 are important. It would be bad to leave Iraq as a failed state. So if we want to win, defined by those goals from 2003. I think we need to double down on the surge in Iraq. If its worth being there then we need to do everything possible to win. Stop loss every swinging dick in the military. Call up the entire fucking reserve forces of the US. Pres bush allways made the excuse at the begining of the occupation that the generals never asked for more troops. Gen Petraous said recently that one of his reasons for ending the surge was to give the army a break. Look either this is worth winning or its not. Either X number of forces is required or its not. If you cant do the job with what you have get more or dont bother trying to half ass it.

If the US cant commit to winning in Iraq by providing the forces we really need to win in Iraq, I really dont want to die for a fucking half assed effort. What is so damn contemptable is that we can win this war and are not doing everything we can to make sure it happens. I would also really like to see every american, politican and normal dude, when asked about what we should do in Iraq say something from Churchhills speech book. Something like "we are going to be in Iraq until we win, we shall never give up, we shall never surrender, let the forces of evil flee in terror. We will commit every national resource to standing Iraq up on its own two feat. The terrorist will not win period." Yeah, i know, its a completely unrealistic fantasy. Im really afraid that 20 years from now looking at the Iraq war memorial, I will be saying sorry to all the people I know that died, cuase we were chased out of iraq by the anti war liberal crowd just like we were from Vietnam.

abstractjenn said...

Dude - you should be a journalist. The writing on this blog is fantastic. Bookworthy material for sure.
Glad you made it home safe - I know it's not enough but Thank You for your service.

How many hats can one person wear? said...

Alex, You don't know me, I am a friend of Cynthia (Lauren's mom). I was reading your blog when you talk about the incident in May that killed 7. I was just wondering if you know Drew Jensen who was injured in that incident?

I love your blog. This is very important for people to read this to get a better understanding of what is happening in this war.

Thanks for sharing with us.

Clayton said...

In Vietnam there were so many dead they didn't even name them. Let's hope it never gets to that level.
The traditional news (no non-traditional then) did a much better job of publicizing the casualty figures, perhaps because the sheer numbers had such shock value.
I'm a former 1st Cav trooper and my son is a Ranger. I have nothing but respect for you guys...fellow grunts.

Yv-ster said...

Alex,I finally came to read your blog after getting the notice from Votevets.org that you needed support to win for 'Best Military Blog'. After voting (something I RARELY do first and read later) I read yours and know I voted for someone who speaks what I've believed for many more decades, than those of your young life. You are a year younger than my youngest child.
My oldest, who will be 40 next month, volunteered to rejoin the MT Nat'l Guard in 2005, in the Infantry...and go of to the hell you were at...I, his mother went off to the liquor store and then to a shrink...he being the child I'd already lost once when he was born, to forced adoption because his father disappeared before he appeared...I could not stand the thought of losing him twice. Somehow he was one of the lucky ones who come home with no exterior damage. Training for desert warfare on ice in Montana in January this year succeeded in bringing about the injury that will keep my dear son from going back to the hell you and he survived...and we can hopefully continue on our journey of mother and child loves miraculously reconnected for 16+ years now. I am glad for that but reading the truth you have written...the one I've know since my then 19 year old boyfriend and now husband of 38+ years was drafted back in 1969...back when endless coffins filled with the remains of my age mates came back from Vietnam...has brought this mother, wife, grandmother and citizen of a country I love, led by people who have disgraced us all, to tears again.
I can only say that I am so sorry the time I spent writing to everyone in the US Senate I thought would listen and be wise enough to know better, back in September 2002, when the fate of all those whose lives have passed under the radar of what most of my fellow citizens hear or care to know, wasn't enough to save you from having to start your adult life with this horrific experience as its base, nor enough to save the lives of all those you served with and cared about, nor the horrors of what life will hold for all those who came back with less than they left with...seen and unseen and also for the ruination of a country and the lives of innocents there who had harmed us in no way and never deserved what our 'leaders' decided to do in our names.
I want to thank you for your honest courage in telling us the truth. You make Americans like me and my family proud...for your courage in all kinds of ways besides the unimaginable for most Americans of having to face death every day. I wish you a future that finds endless ways for good to come from your immense talent and your life altering experince.
Thank you again for your wisdom, beyond your years. Perhaps when your generation is old enough to run this country, it will do a better job than what those in mine who have somehow stole the chance to do good and purposely blown it have.
I wish you all the best life may hold for you Alex, and for those you love who also love you. I will be watching for more great things to come from your incredibly talent and caring, moral heart.
Yvonne
Another soldier's mom

mikegolfjr said...

First, I am glad that you are home. I am now with the 1-25 SBCT formerly known as the 172nd SBCT and for a matter of fact, 1-17 INF...the guys that you relieved in Mosul right before we were extended for another 4 months. I, for one, think that you should be punished to the fullest extent for your blogs...there is no place for these words, not as a Soldier. You knew what you were getting into when you joined the Army...as has every Soldier that has lost their life during this war. We knew that there would be " occupational hazards" when we joined. I have seen my buddies die as well...and I think of them everyday as I carry them in my heart...but they were Soldiers...and that is what we do.
Again...congrats on making it home...

Aslı said...

Dear Alex,
I just finished reading your whole blog. I do not normally post comments but this time I just can't help it. For me, your bravery consists in much more than enlisting to fight for your country. Having lived in several different countries, I have learned to be very suspicious of over-enthusiastic patriotism.
In my opinion, your real bravery consists in admitting your errors and in speaking up. It must be hard to say "I want my children to know that what I did was wrong". And it is incredible to me to be able to follow the process of your disillusionment, to see you go from an entry with the words "bad guy", a reflection of the Hollywood-style black-and-white presentation of the world, to a fictional entry about an Iraqui soldier (demonstrating empathy) to your admittance of previous naievete and the effect propaganda and Hollywood had on you (to me, sending 18-year-olds to get butchered with promises of glory is no different from sending young muslim radicals on suicide missions with the promise of 70 virgins in heaven. I am not comparing the righteousness of the two causes, just saying that those about to get killed should be rightly informed). I don't think I could have been as brave as you have. This is the true heroism, and I am glad you have come back to continue screaming your opinions.
On a side note, congratulations for the great writing. Good luck for the healing process.
Sincerely,
Aslı

Ace said...

Interesting read. While you were in Baquoba, I was right up the river with the 82nd Airborne, living out of Iraqi schools and houses and trying to interrupt the flow of supplies and men into the city itself.

The manner in which troops were used like toys is something that truely cannot be told as it would seem idiotic to others. We spent 11 out of 15 months in those schools and houses, away from the FOBs, and bouncing between our AO and the 1st CAV AO, doing lengthy missions then returning to our schoolhouse to 'rest'.

I remember the IED incidents you wrote about well. We would hear all the latest news out of Baquoba. My own unit suffered 11 KIA in a house collapse from truck bombs, and I can't remember how many rigged houses we stumbled across while clearing out the river valley. Hell, 1st CAV even had us doing raids in downtown Tahrir, in just our little humvees back when it was all heating up in the first place.

As for the small amount of troops to take down a city? Yup, we were a recon squadron half the size of an infantry battalion and we were given the whole DRV to overwatch. Who thought up using so few troops to hold such large areas was a good idea?

Anonymous said...

Thank you Alex. I have very much enjoyed reading your blog and the blogs of many of your comrades for many months. You have an integrity and simple moral strength sadly lacking in our political "leadership."

Hang in there a little bit more, watch your back as I know you will be watching the backs of your brothers and sisters, and come home safe.

Maj Patrick O'Neil, USAFR

Anonymous said...

WOW you Americans are SO powerful.. I can imagine that Colin Powell will kiss you as you so desire it upon your return to the economy of jobs and cute pimple faced women... and "yo" know they justlove some gay guys in uniforms cause they dont tell. hey hey hey... So powerful.

Anonymous said...

Hey bro my name is CPL Jason snead.
I served in bravo co 1 12.the guys named on your site as kia from b co were good men and Eric sieger was my best friend.I am glad that you have exposed some of the real parts of our job since most people think that were dumbass bullet catchers or blood thirsy savages.they dont realize the nonsense that we put up with in addition to the constant attacks we recive and the loss of our friends that are our family or how that truly breaks you but you still keep pushing cause if you dont then you die. appreciate your opinions man keep on rockin