Sunday, September 28, 2008

Blogs of Note

I've never been a big reader of military blogs. I started this one two years ago when I barely knew what a blog actually was, and I never thought there was a military subsection. The first time I ever heard of the biggest one, Blackfive, was from a Playboy article I read at my outpost in Diyala Province.

Now that I've been out of the deployed loop for awhile now, I've started to read more and more milblogs to satisfy my hunger for first person perspectives in Iraq, Afghanistan and the home front. The media has fallen flat on its face on covering the wars, from the bird's eye view to the grunt's eye view. Milbloggers have become the best reporters in the field, for good reason.

I've always thought it was a good thing to be proactive and spread the good word, so today I'll be starting a feature called Blogs of Note. Every so often, I'll link to deserving blogs, hoping to boost their traffic just a little. I'll try to keep it varied, from infantryman to sailors to just regular folks.

This week: Fobbits Need Ice Cream Too

For the uninitiated, fobbits are the miserable soldiers on a FOB (forward operating base) that are deployed for no clear purpose other than to guard gates, buy 50-inch TVs at the base exchange and take pictures of the desert sunset. If you do not leave the security of the wire on a semi-regular basis, congratulations, you're a fobbit.

Fobbits Need Ice Cream Too is written by Joe, a junior enlisted soldier in the National Guard. He's infantry, but the merciless gods that assign units to their area of operations had Joe's unit based in Kuwait. His job is simple: take outlandish amenities like ice cream, X Box 360s and folding lawn chairs across the border into Iraq to feed the never ending appetite for fobbits from Striker to Marez. They provide security for KBR truckers, usually Iraqi nationals that are working hard to run up Cheney's severance check. As any anonymous junior enlisted soldier would, Joe rails against the lazy assholes who depend on him to deliver their absurd spoils. He has no love for incompetent leaders above him or the pogue units that rule Kuwait with an iron PT belt. I found myself laughing hysterically at all the ridiculous things he goes through (endless formations because of graffiti are among the highlights. The offending word? Breastmilk.).

Joe is getting great buzz within the community for good reason. He's not swayed by politics or concerned with telling the most dramatic combat story. He recounts day to day life in combat, trials of incredible highs and devastating lows. If you want to immerse yourself in the view of the common grunt, look no further.

Money Post: Donkey IEDs, Flat Tires And Ramadan

AH

24 comments:

LT Nixon said...

I like Joe's style. He's very straight up with a dose of humor. Just what you want in a milblog. Reminds me of your stuff when you were in country.

raven said...

Dude
I always get edgy with the fobbit-pouge-remf vs. grunt deal. I know the military fosters both inter-service and inter-unit rivalry unless it suits them to do otherwise. From the eternal whining and bitching about "the others" one would get the sense that there is no meaningful role played by anyone who is not
a grunt
a marine
or someone not in
my brigade
my battalion
my company
my platoon
my squad
unless, of course you need

water
food
ammo
commo
fire support
dustoff

and a myriad of other functions that "people other than grunts serve".
I realize that the price that many in the infantry pays is wildly out of proportion to that of the 95% of pouges but pouges raise there right hands and step across that line just like grunts.

Anonymous said...

sniff sniff....what's that burning smell? (did the LT say your blog sucks now?)

Alex said...

Raven,

I never sought to disrespect anyone who deployed with a job to do that contributed to the success of our mission. That being said, there is a sizable amount of soldiers who deploy that literally have no visible job other than standing in line at the internet all day, buying the last normal sized PT shirt at the PX and telling combat stories from when they were outside the wire for a couple hours. Those are the contemptible people. I understand that they don't have any say if some KBR employee does their job for them. But the line is crossed when they exaggerate, lie and aggrandize about their time in Iraq.

As for everything you listed, most infantry units are self reliant nowadays. KBR filled containers with water and food that we picked up. We picked up our own ammo and our RTOs messed with commo (we had one commo guy in the company that went out with us, thereby revoking fobbit status). As for fire support, we didn't see much arty other than mortars. So as far as my deployment goes, I could've dealt with a lot less people on the FOB. I most certainly could've bought an appropriately sized PT shirt instead of wearing the same dirty one all the time. I was once rejected, along with several of my friends, for being "too dirty" at the chow hall by - you guessed it - a fobbit with an attitude.


Anon,

Pretty sure LT praised me just a few weeks ago. Obviously, my perspective and writing style are a lot different now compared to when I was deployed. That's what he's talking about. Reading comprehension: get it while it's hot.

AH

Anonymous said...

ummm...hate to break it to you, but your grunt buddies and yourself aren't as self sustaining as you think.

First off, where do your bullets come from? Secondly, if it WASN'T for KBR, where would your food come from? Laundry? Are you saying washing your OWN dirty clothes is "above" you?

I was over there in 03 before KBR came to our base (It wasn't even a FOB then) and we had to do our own laundry in a bucket, eat MRE's, had NO A/C, and our SB's (Support Battalions) were too busy just bringing food, fuel, and bullets to do anything else, so guess what, we pulled guard duty on top of all the other shit so THEY could get some sleep after a 20hr day resupplying US. How DARE you talk shit about your support, soldier. Without them, you would have been a whiny-er little chump than you already are. Without them, you can't do jack! You have no GRASP about what it takes to handle a THEATER operation.

Sure, some guys probably don't have much of a "job" over there, but I knew of several of my gus's, that should have been heating MRE's for us instead of patrolling with us.

You did what, 3 years? 1 tour? I know COOKS that saw more "death and destruction" than you did, just on the march up there.

Grow up, please.

Retired 11B

P.S. As far as Baskin Robbins, BK, and all the other shit goes, so be it. I wish i had been there when I was there, but A/C would have been much more welcome. I think they should pull the plug on all that shit, and leave the A/C. That'll be the first shit to go when we start pulling out anyhow.

Anonymous said...

Alex,

Don't you realize "Praise" isn't "Respect", and can be lost by a singularly uttered word?

LT Nixon said...

sniff sniff....what's that burning smell? (did the LT say your blog sucks now?)

Not sure why you are mistaking my comment, Anonymous, but I both praise and respect Alex. He is also dashing, but that's just a navy thing (wakka wakka).

Alex said...

First anon,

Whoa, buddy. I'll reiterate: I don't diss anybody that had a hand in mission success, just the people that take credit for it. If it wasn't for cooks and MP units and other MOSs, we would've had to pull more guard duty than we were originally assigned. I only hold contempt for the liars and cheats.

And again comparing penis size in regards to deployments. I was there in the absolutely most deadly period of the war, in the most dangerous city. But I don't blatantly say that to another veteran, because it's silly and childish. It's asinine for anyone to suggest they had it better or worse than another person from another deployment. You simply don't know. I could see those fobbits with my own eyes. I didn't rely on conjecture over the internet to make a judgment call. So what is your point?

As for our support unit - it was detached from us for months. We had to rely on another brigade. From your experience, I'm sure you can conclude this was a terribly inefficient way of doing things. That's why we had to be self-reliant.

I'm in complete agreement that all of that bullshit should be scraped. BK, ice cream, electronics at the PX. Just leave the A/C, internet and phones.

Alex said...

Not sure why you are mistaking my comment, Anonymous, but I both praise and respect Alex. He is also dashing, but that's just a navy thing (wakka wakka).

Thanks for the clarification, LT! Your homoerotic overtones always have a home here.

Joe said...

"water
food
ammo
commo
fire support
dustoff"

Uh, as an Infantry company in a CAV Squadron, we are pretty self-sustaining. We (well not our gun trucks specifically, but the supply element of our squadron) drives to the shipyard here everyday to pick up the connex's of food, water and ammo with our own LMTVs. We have our own in-house commo, no fires available and medevac is almost always red which means they won't fly even if we're on the road. Thee is no KBR presence here doing everything for us. As far as support units helping us dumb grunts out with our workload; doesn't happen. At our base, the only guard duty is our arms room and AHA, which we rotate intra-company and with the other companies in the squadron, even if we just got off the road. There is another battalion here from our same brigade that is responsible for tower guard, even though it is Kuwait.

As far as laundry goes, I handwash my own t-shirts and underwear and dry them outside in the sun. There is laundry service here but we are never here during the hours they are open to use it.

There ARE a lot of support BNs out on the road hauling convoys like us, fucking things up like shooting flares at kids and running over donkeys then calling them up as IEDs after they've charlie miked past the blast radius.

raven said...

Yo man. I really didn't think you dissing anyone. My point was that this is an age-old dynamic. You know and I know that there are morons, punks, liars, cowards, idiot officers as well as great people in every outfit. My point was more about the structure. When I came home from Vietnam the bulk of shit, counter to the whiny "I got spit on by hippies bullshit" came from right-wingers who thought Nam Vets were pussies because we were "losing" that idiotic fucking war. Any time we are in another country for an extended period the kind of shit you describe with the people stuck in useless situations and lifers foisting chicken shit on the troops.

Disclaimer, I was nothing but a punk-ass remf truck driver in Korea and Vietnam.

Anonymous said...

I think what the retired 11B anon was getting at in his "where does your shit come from" post was that you have the same people IN your self-sustaining Cav/IN/AR/Stryker units that have to do the same job. It's not you 11B's, 19D's, 11M's, etc running around getting you shit. THEY DO IT. You'd be muc more stressed if it was Alex getting his own ammo, etc.

Unfortunately, I was over there in 2005, and we didn't have KBR either. Of course, we were there for 4 months a time. I left the normal Infantry/Ranger lifestyle and decided I'd rather be allowed to make operational decisions based on my situation. You figure it out.

You think it was dangerous for you?

Anonymous said...

Now, i know it isnt right to say, "we had it worse than you, blah blah" but i dont think that any SF unit has it any worse than any other "regular" unit in country. You do what you want when you want. How many times have you done a patrol in daylight for 16 hours? Ill assume none. How was your 10 minute hit last night after hopping out of your little bird? must have been nice not to have to travel the roads in a vehicle during the daytime

Anonymous said...

to the 2nd anon, after me being anon too; do you REALLY believe, that we don't have our own sources of stress? You make it sound like "Sure, those guys just wake up, eat breakfast, and say "hey, let's just raid this place"" That's hollywood. I'm just "saying".

Hell, half the time the intel is so fucked we wind up having to fight our way out severely unarmed -vs- a normal unit. i'm NOT claiming anything by that, but we normally get some nicks out of it, and that's it.

Every job sucks, whether it be in the military, or in the warehouse where you claim(ed) to work now.

I've been reading, but have reserved comment until now. I have a son in the 5/2 at Fort Lewis. He wants to "be like me" and I keep telling him the grass is the same color on both sides of the fence. Trust me.

13 Stoploss said...

despite the bickering from anonymous comments, great feature, Alex. I look forward to reading more of them.

Victor said...

Damn, you try to spread the word about a website and everyone hates you for it.
Your going to find people from every unit that you don't like whether they share the same MOS as you or not. The whole point of this website is so Alex can tell a few experiences, while trying to make sense of everything, and express his views. Not everyone can agree with everything he has to say but I'm sure there's a better way of going about explaining the reason you disagree.
Dick swinging competitions don't really lead anywhere.

Alex said...

Thanks for the backup, Victor. You're often the voice of reason on this god forsaken thing.

Anonymous said...

You and Victor have no CLUE about how the military works. None. Zip, Zero, Nada.

Seriously.

Alex said...

That explains a lot. Thanks, anon!

Victor said...

We live in a country where we can all open up our own blogs and state our points. We can invest our time expressing our own feelings on our blogs instead of trying to tell people that their absolutely wrong for having the thoughts that they have.

Anonymous said...

You and Victor have no CLUE about how the military works. None. Zip, Zero, Nada.

Seriously.

You should write a book about how the military works, I'm sure it'll be a hit. But first you'll have to learn how to explain what your talking about. Because I have no idea how my previous comment even ties into me not knowing anything about the military.

raven said...

"How the military works" Ha, to paraphrase Bill Murray. "We're the US Army, we're 10-1 and 2!

raven said...

Dude, if you haven't read "Late Thoughts on an Old War" by Phil Beidler give it a shot. He teaches English at Alabama and was a cav officer in the Nam. It was written some 4 years ago but he had your situation in mind when he wrote, "In speaking of the soldiers of this war he says, "Don't come home expecting anybody to remotely care". We are too busy on our cell phones. "

raven said...

Crap, I meant to post that on your "Things I Carried" thread.

Edina Stone said...

Hey - I agree. Just came on to read the experiences this guy, who risks life and limb for his country, share some of the stories he has. If you don't like the blog, why not go somewhere else?