Thursday, July 22, 2004

Boys with their toys, projected power and fighting for peace.

If you go to the average military base back in the states, you would find them filled with buildings that aren't that unlike what you would find out in town. Official looking if drab office buildings, some made out to the lowest bidder, big warehouses, naval bases that don't look much different then the rest of the harbor other then the warships. They usually don't look that pretty except for places like Pensacola, where most of the buildings there are red brick and look like huge southern mansions. If you go inside they're old and dreary though. Most of these bases were made up in response to handle troops and offensive weaponry during one big war or another in the past all the way back to the Revolutionary War. Or they came into being because some hotshot politician was able to persuade the rest of the congress that his state would best fill the niche for this particular mission that this base would fill. So that means that a majority of the places we're staying at these days are leftovers from one military hayday or another. Days when war was dependent on how many troops you could put out in the field. We needed places to spool them up and ship them off to some far different land to fight for the what ever shape the American dream was taking at that time. We mass produced the American fighting man. It wasn't the most efficient use of life if you look at the numbers, country's gathered up army's and weapons and just threw them at each other. Countless hero's were made and died doing this. These conflicts our annual loss equaled the total amount of troops we have sent to Iraq. So far we've lost 900 as of last week. That's a big percentage of a small town, maybe you actually know someone who's died. I don't like thinking of people as numbers but it's a drop in the bucket compared to just about any military conflict that we've stuck the label "war" on since the country was founded. Why is that?

Our military is learning that people are more important, not that you would think that if you were listening to only the peaceniks back home. We are learning to step back and let our weapons do the fighting for us. We're using higher tech, higher priced, more focused weapons, it doesn't lessen that we're going out there ending human life but we're trying to use exactly the right amount of force necessary to get the job done. We have collages set up just to learn military tactics from all the battles all the way back to the dawn of language and we keep improving. Each warrior has more safety training then any other in history. The training we go through to minimize the amount of casualties is intense and based on lessons learned from prior wars from all over the world. If someone makes a big dumb mistake, don't worry it will make it to next years safety stand down. You don't want to be that idiot. Problem with a piece of gear? Complain and if it's a serious complaint, it's fixed in the next alphabetical generation of that gear. Yes of course there's still problems and human error but we're covering as bases almost as soon as they pop up. People still die but cannon fodder isn't a term that would apply to any of our people. With these new weapons that we can aim at a single spot from half way around the globe, we have a birds eye view of whatever we want. There isn't as much standing toe to toe, we see where they're at, marking the spots being as careful as we can to minimize civilian casualties. Push a few thousand red buttons and reach out and touch someone. The enemy doesn't even have a target to shoot at and within a surprisingly short period of time there's just a disorganized force waiting stuck out in the middle of a big desert with no transportation. By the time our troops get there, these guys don't want to fight anymore. If we do find pockets of resistance, if it's too big to handle by the excellent force on the ground or looks risky. We call in our bolt from the blue from around the corner or over the next hill and lo and behold it actually works.

Back to Saddam, if you go around the bases here in Iraq (most built during the mid 80's) they're covered with bunkers that are 25 to 40 feet thick, dual airlock doors, air filtration systems, dug well into the ground. Regular buildings have thick concrete walls and roofs. It looks pretty tough and would slow anybody down. Why didn't it work? Saddam couldn't get the high tech stuff so he returned to old school. Sunk all of his money into bunkers that I'd have to admit are kinda cool. I know we don't have them where I'm stationed at and I'm sure they would have done a lot of good maybe 20 years ago or maybe against Iran. We didn't even pay attention to them. He had a fixed idea in his head and no one to tell him the flaws in his defensive plans. He didn't have the people, mindset or resources to come up with a truly flexible plan. On the positive side for him, he didn't have to fight battles for more money. He just said do it and it was done, his guys didn't want to disappoint him or they found themselves out in the middle of nowhere in a shallow grave. Still with me being the peaceful guy that I am, I still think it's was a good idea to take the guy down. No matter what I said about Michael Moore's F9/11, which I did enjoy because I like looking at different viewpoints. It was still a totally one sided worldview and as such, should be taken with a grain of salt. A nice thing about America is that we have freedom of speech and even though his movie was a well directed attack on this war, he had every right to say what he wanted. He did have some good points but I wonder how those Marines he used in the movie are doing now? Are their careers ruined? Did they have any idea the can of worms that they were stepping into? And if so is he giving any of that pile of money he made back to them? It would be a nice gesture if they suffered. He paints a nice picture and knows how to get the point he's trying to make across but things aren't nearly as nicely packaged as he makes them out to be. He left out many things that affected our reasoning behind the war, the gassing of the Kurds, the mass graves littering the country side or the way he dared us to attacking. During the first Gulf War, Saddam kept sending missile over to Israel trying to provoke them into attacking, a country that supposedly has nukes, don't ask me I've never seen them. That war could have gotten very ugly if they had gotten involved, it wouldn't have stopped till there was a bunch of craters dotting the landscape. The guy threatened too many people at touchy times. He was a loose cannon and has some power to back it, who needs those kind of people around? This war was started in the paranoid time following September 11th, which changed the entire way the world looks at war. We had this wacko on the other side of the world that doesn't like us and could support a huge terrorist attacks and had reason to, mocking us. We had to put our money where our mouth is. We were like the English bobbies that people sometimes make fun of "stop or we will have to tell you to stop again". Now that we are here and won the war, we need to finish up what we started. We can't back down now because people are asking for peace or because a small minority is still taking potshots at us or else we would loose all the ground that we've fought so hard to get. (Yes it would save our money, American lives and take the burden off the military). The real reason we have to stay if because we said we could do it. If we pull out and the country goes down in flames, our nation would have to live with that burden a long time. Iraq needs to be stabilized and productive for itself, not for us. These so called freedom fighters here, do they have a plan if they win? There would be a civil war if we pulled out right now, we said we would stabilize the country and that's what we have to do. The longer we have these resistance fighters taking potshots at us the longer we're going to be around. We need to change they're way of thinking and for them to realize the best and quickest way to get us off their property is for peace. We don't want to be here any more then they do but we can't be chased off with our tails between our legs. Every time one of these guys sets off an IED, that person building a stronger base for us to be here. Stop fighting and we'll go away. I'm more for peace then that average military person is and abhor the thought of having to killing someone. Is that even going to slow me down if my life is in danger? Nope. I don't believe that a job should be left half finished, if you're nation building, build. Don't pull out because of politics, we're not fighting war any more, we're fighting for peace hoping to leave something better here then what we started. We had the choice of backing out up till the day we entered the country. With the position the US takes in the world, we are the finishers and can't afford to let someone else delegate the conditions of how this should end and we need to stand by what we are saying.

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