more veteran's day

I figure the best way to celebrate (and avoid work) was to actually read about what it's like to be a soldier so I wandered around that Operation Truth site a while.

I found blogs and other sites....and here's the summary: It's usually a really, really crappy job.

from one blog about the current war:

Counterinsurgency operations (COIN) present tons of challenges, not the least of which is how they complicate the moral calculus of killing.

A Soldier who fights in a high-intensity war against a uniformed enemy can confidently assume that every enemy soldier is a combatant, a threat, someone whom it's morally permissible to kill. That's why Soldiers don't fire warning shots; instead, they aim to "put two in the chest." People downrange are to be killed unless they surrender or become incapcitated.

In contrast, a Soldier who is part of a security force in a situation where his mission is to protect the people and where a non-uniformed enemy hides among the people, such as the situation we face in the Iraq COIN, faces a calculus more like that of a police officer. He must assume that people are innocent civilians until evidence suggests otherwise. People downrange are to be protected unless they show hostile intent.

This puts Soldiers in a bind; it gives the bad guys a huge advantage. The bad guys usually get to initiate fires, forcing Soldiers to transform from cops to killers in an instant.I worry that this too easily creates an over-reaction. Our Soldiers are doing a remarkable job overall of limiting collateral damage, but one area I worry about is some units' "react-to-contact drills" that include firing every weapons system, immediately in all directions, as suppressive fire, with or without targets. Doing this, of course, often leads to harm to innocents, which can be traumatic to the Soldiers who did the firing. Needless to say, it also furthers the insurgents' cause, "proving" that we don't care about the lives of Iraqis.

Here's a blog entry worth reading. Now I'm going to go teach the neighbors how to make jam.

Update: Good jam!

Back to the war one last time--and this guy's perspective on how to end it, or at least lead it. I hope this dude goes into politics. His book sounds pretty extraordinary (and as one less-than-complimentary reviewer said, written as if he was contemplating running for office some day).


  1. I'll have you know that reading your blog is keeping me from NaNoWriMo-ing. It's ALL your fault. Now I'm too upset to write, and you've just forced me to eat chocolate, too.

    You're evil, woman. Just plain evil.


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