The Sandbox

GWOT hot wash, straight from the wire

Welcome to The Sandbox, a forum for service members who have served or are currently serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, returned vets, spouses and caregivers. The Sandbox's focus is not on policy and partisanship (go to our Blowback page for that), but on the unclassified details of deployment -- the everyday, the extraordinary, the wonderful, the messed-up, the absurd. All correspondence is read, and as much as possible is posted, lightly edited. If you know someone who is deployed who might have something to say, please tell them about us. To submit a post click here.


November 14, 2006

Name: CAPT Doug Traversa
Posting date: 11/14/06
Stationed in: Kabul, Afghanistan
Hometown: Tullahoma, TN
Milblog url:

We have an AFN rock station over here called The Eagle. The motto for this station is "Music Worth Fighting For." This has to be about the most ridiculous, most insensitive, most "insert your favorite insult here" thing I have ever heard. I assure you, no one, not a single, solitary, 100% patriotic, red-white-and-blue American service man or woman is willing to fight for that radio station or its music. This trivializes both what we are really fighting for, as well as the deaths of all those who have paid the ultimate price. The only people (and I use the term loosely) who fight over music are the Taliban, and they fight to prevent music. Music worth fighting for? Who comes up with this stuff? Where’s my Excedrin? In fairness, I may be missing something here, but I don’t think so.


They may be implying that, since the Taliban oppose music, that fighting them is 'fighting for' this radio station.

Yes, it's goofy. And ridiculous. Offensive too. They should really re-think this.

You can tell them what you think at (It's really for Europe only, but it does have a specific question about the slogan.)

You mean you guys aren't over there to protect ClearChannel?? I'm schlocked, I mean, shocked!

Ha, ha, ha, ha! Nicely said, Zelma!

Good Morning Afghanistan! Here's some kick 'em in the teeth Toby Keith and we'll be playing some Lee Greenwood in T-minus 2 thirty, so make somebody hurty!

Seriously offensive. That is not what my brother died for...they should be ashamed.

Maybe they are referring to freedom to listen to music, freedom to play different kinds of music and freedom of speech

I agree with Yoshi and Southern Girl - I'm sure that the radio station meant freedom to listen and appreciate music. I understand the hurt that the phrase suggests to a US/Canadian soldier but I think that an Afghani person may derive a lot of comfort from it... they were denied the right to listen to music - imagine listening to it after years of living without it. I guess, what I'm trying to say, and v. inarticulately, is that it's a matter of perspective.

Yikes! AFN has come a long way since I listened to it in Germany years ago during the Viet Nam war. AFN kept playing music from "Hair", especially "Let the Sun Shine In" daily. Apparently the station manager didn't know that in the musical it was sung over the body of a dead soldier. Every enlisted (back then drafted) person did. Talk about subtly subversive!

*gasp* But if you don't wrap everything in hyper-patriotic slogans, the terrorists will win! *eyeroll*

Thanks everyone for posting. I got this very nice e-mail from the AFN Commander, and I wanted to share it with all of you too. If you have a good idea for a slogan, let him know.

Doug Traversa

Captain Traversa,

I noticed your blog entry on The Sandbox and very much appreciate your
sentiment regarding the positioning statement for AFN The Eagle. As a boots
on the ground veteran of both wars with Iraq - and I was a combat arms
officer before I turned PAO, I get your point. Absolutely…these are the basics:

AFN Europe launched this new format in April, and we are presently
conducting a survey of our listeners to ascertain their likes and dislikes
about the service. Because I really do get your point, I made sure one of
the questions deals specifically with the slogan. I have a group of experts
coming here the first week of December to analyze the survey results and
recommend changes. At the top of the list is the slogan.

You should know that, quite frankly, before we revamped our sound with The
Eagle, the quality at the 11 subordinate stations across the theater here in
Europe was well below par; some were horrible and some were just OK. We
needed to standardize the format and apply some controls to various stations
and empower - and then hold accountable - station leaders to conduct radio
per the standard. The Eagle is a comprehensive effort to do that. During the
complicated ramp-up, one of our biggest potential roadblocks to
organizational momentum was the slogan. As such, my predecessor wisely made
a decision on a slogan so we could continue to march with the launching of
the new format. He knew full-well we’d re-look things 6 months later, and we

You should also know that, for as many folks who feel like you do, we have
an equal number who really love it. As one of your fellow bloggers suggests,
you should go our website ( and take our survey. You’ll
have an opportunity there to make comments in addition to answering
questions. Trust that if you have a good alternative for the slogan, we’ll
definitely take it into consideration. If we do change it, I think the
statement will reflect something that connotes bringing you home, since we
speak in English and play American music to deployed service men and women
to 56 countries across 5 time zones (and on Navy ships at sea).

. . . Be safe, make it home!


LTC Scott Malcom
33rd Commander, American Forces Network Europe

I appreciate the letter from AFN (ah, AFN, how I recall thee from my years as a kid in Wiesbaden)... But I agree with your original post- the slogan is lame.

Great to see a response from the AFN but I still think that as a radio promo that slogan ranks right along side of WKRP's Thanksgiving Day live turkey drop, since it doesn't fly either. Was it a Lt. Nesmith that originated the concept of musical warfare?

Well, the interesting thing to me about the slogan is the disconnect it suggests or reflects concerning the people who are fighting the war and those who are supposedly benefitting from having the war fought -- American civilians. We're all over here in America living our lives as if not that much else is going on. Sometimes we joke about not being able to have some silly convenience and we'll say, as a joke, "damn this war," as if the war were the reason that, say, Starbucks ran out of whipped cream to put on top of our double carmel cappuccino latte fresco. The "music worth fighting for" line is kind of a joke concerning what the stakes of the war are. President Bush has said a number of times that "the stakes in Iraq are high." And we don't want to think that those high stakes are music! But there's another way to think about this. Part of what soldiers fight for is so other people will not have to go through the same thing. People who aren't involved in war can't help that (other than by volunteering). If they aren't involved, they are going to care about the whipped cream on their coffee and the music they listen to and the gym they go to etc. And in a sense, that's what warriors in the field want also: they want as many people as possible living normal lives, not seeing blackened blasted limbs strewn all over the place. The purpose of warfare is 'normalcy,' and it is against the threat to our normalcy that we fight against our enemies. "The American way of life" -- isn't that worth fighting for? And wouldn't music be right up there in a list of important items that make up the American way of life?

I have been informed that it was the brilliant advertising tactician Les Nesman, not Nesmith, that made famous the radio promo battlecry of, "as God is my witness I thought turkeys could fly." Good to see the military making use of his shock and awe marketing skills. As a side note the "music worth fighting for" slogan brought out stateside concert protestors chanting, "make love, not music". They were easily dispersed by riot police lobbing canisters of Michael Bolton. I'm sure the AFN slogan will win the war but I prefer the one LTC Malcom used....Be safe, make it home.

In my tour, we had a radio station that took requests: As I recall the most popular song was "We
Gotta Get Out of This Place" so at least they did not censor our requests. Good luck.

Even worse is the line Eagle use - 'another direct hit from Eagle FM' - that really makes me feel sick.

What kind of music is really worth fighting for? The sound of a loved ones voice? The sound of peace and quiet? I might be doing a performance project based on the Eagle FM slogan so I would welcome any suggestions.

Thanks and best wishes,

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