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.

WHY I BLOG |

November 10, 2006

WHY I BLOG
Name: CAPT Doug Traversa
Posting date: 11/10/06
Stationed in: Kabul, Afghanistan
Hometown: Tullahoma, TN
Milblog url: http://traversa.typepad.com
Email: [email protected]

Today I ended up riding with Lt Col M, which almost never happens. He asked if I was still blogging. Yes, I am. Then he asked why I blogged. Hmmm. Good Question. Of course, from day one I’ve clearly stated for everyone that I wanted to write a book, then get on The Daily Show or The Colbert Report (or both) to plug my book. Doesn't hurt to dream. But would I stop if both shows were suddenly cancelled?  No. Would I stop if I knew I would never publish a book?  No. So why do I really do this?

Reasons I Blog

1.  I am going to leave a very detailed record of life here in Afghanistan, from the perspective of an Air Force officer essentially drafted into the Army for a year. Others will follow, and perhaps this will be of use to them.

2.  I get to meet many new people on line. I'e made new friends and hooked up with old ones. I've gotten lots of support, which certainly helps my morale. As my hut mates say, "We have so many people praying for us, we’re probably saints already." My thanks to all of you.

3.  I get to voice my opinions, and I have lots of those. Even though I've gone through some rough times here, I've been pretty happy (yes, actually happy) for a good part of the last six weeks. I feel good about our role here. I really want Afghanistan to be free. I hate the Taliban. I hated them long before 9/11. I actually knew what was going on here long before that. So we are fighting an enemy as repugnant and inhuman as the Nazis. Very few wars have been as justified as this one. Now we have to finish the job, and I can say I’ve been a small part of it. That does make me happy. Not only happy, but proud. I spent most of my life reading military books, mainly dealing with WWII. I wrote a thesis on combat motivational factors. But never did I think I would be in a situation like this. I can be a pretty cynical guy, but I am really proud to be a part of this. Really. And I get to share it with you. Maybe this will help someone else facing a deployment.

4.  It's fun. I like writing, and when I have downtime, it makes the time fly by. My hut mate is bored out of his mind. I don't have enough time in the day. I come home from work, and I often start writing. It is a great way to come to terms with life here.

5.  And finally, maybe I will get that book published. One never knows.

So to all the rest of you coming over to paradise, there is a great deal of good going on over here. Yes, leaving your loved ones behind stinks, big time. But most Afghans want us here and need us here. The thing I fear most is not car bombs, IEDs, or snipers. I fear that our politicians will lose sight of what we can do here. I fear we will lose heart and leave the job undone. I fear all our sacrifices will have been a waste. I fear my friends here will either have to flee the country or become prisoners under the Taliban again.

Please let me be proven wrong!

Comments

Thanks Doug. It's good stuff and encourages me to support our pollies who wish to continue in Afghanistan. As an ex USAF aviator from the 'dark ages' and before we were getting seriously shot at in VietNam, I admire your dedication to duty, your sense of humor and your willingness to share this with us.

Well we readers appreciate the time and energy you spend. May I suggest two further reasons though - perhaps implicit in your comments but worth thinking about. Putting it down helps you think it thru, and when necessary distance it, rather than get trapped in the feedback loop. That may, usually it does, get one to a more balanced place so 2nd, over time, the insights accumulate. One thing builds on another. If nothing else it's a log of what happened that's alway startling to look back on. That's been my experience with similar efforts.

A good buddy flew F-5s out of Thailand on ground support and has mentioned from time-to-time that SAMs were as big as telephone poles. You may recall from AF history that we weren't very good at supression then. Lots of his wingmates took advantage and spent their evenings drinking. He ran, played tennis, etc. Lots of them didn't come back. Blogging's a pretty good way to spend your time.

Why I read: you people write, good interesting stuff. I am impressed with how articulate and vivid it is.This ability may separate you folks from the mainstream; but it doesn't make it any less real. It is truly difficult to tell what is going on from my end, and believe me, some of us want to know. I recommend this site to many people.( It is usual to bash reporters on the wars, but I do have enough media awareness to see that those guys are getting thwarted from doing their job, plus a awfully high mortality rate for non-combatants.) Oddly, some of the writing seems to resonant on strands in my own life. Not being of the Christian/praying persuasion, I can't make anyones' road smoother, but I do check this site twice a day and, and I now worry about you all! Thanks for posting!

I throughly enjoy reading about days and events from our soldiers. My son is one of you and this makes me feel closer to what is going on. I ignore the news and dread the election results. I now know how my parents felt when my brother spent a year in Viet Nam flying a spotter plane. They were glued to the news every night. I now have walked in their shoes. God bless each and every one of you service personnel and yes there are a lot of prayers being said every minute of every day.

I, too, read the Sandbox just about every day. My daughter recently returned from Iraq, doesn't talk about it, so reading these posts helps me to maybe get some idea of what she may have thought or felt over there. And what she might be thinking or feeling now. I laugh at some posts, cry with others, but all make me think. And make me so glad to get to know some of you through your posts. I appreciate all that you do and look forward to continuing to read and share, however vicariously, what you are experiencing. Thank you for sharing with us. On a lighter note, Helen is getting ready to go back to the desert for a few weeks (not Iraq, though). Her biggest complaint? That she will have to wear a burqa (she says she will wear her tiniest thong underneath just to thumb her nose at the custom) and that she will be living on the flightline and using holes in the ground for a toilet. I can only chuckle and know that my spirited daughter is back :)

To quote you "I fear that our politicians will lose sight of what we can do here. I fear we will lose heart and leave the job undone. I fear all our sacrifices will have been a waste. I fear my friends here will either have to flee the country or become prisoners under the Taliban again.

Please let me be proven wrong!"

I pray that we do "stay locked on target" and our political leaders get out of the way and let you get the job done!

This "old fart retiree" still has lots of her "troops" there with you and in other places... you all are in my prayers.

Unfortunately, we lost our focus when we invaded Iraq. Hopefully, now with the turnover of politicians; we can get back on track.

The lives given need to not have gone in vane; the money spent needs to be accounted for especially to focus on improving how it's spent going forward.

My grandchildren are saddled with this debt for years; let's do them justice as well.

Hello Captain Doug. Thank you so much for keeping us informed regarding some of the personal thoughts of a person serving in our military. I also love to write and it is a wonderful way to express the emotions one truly feels. I hope that someday your dream of publishing a book will be realized. Thank you so much for all you do for us back here in the US. I appreciate our service personnel, my husband retiring from U.S.N. aftr 20 years and retiring from DOD after 25 years. I pray everyday for all people connected with the war but now after reading what you have written I will pray for a specific person . . . you, Captain Doug. Please know that you will be in our prayers tomorrow morning in my Adult Sunday School Class. May God continue to watch over you and those who serve with you and elsewhere in our great world.

Love Doonesbury, love the Sandbox, LOVE the Daily Show and the Colbert Report. But what grabbed my attention about your sandbox post/blog entry wasn't even what usually grabs me (I'm more interested in reading about what's going on in Afghanistan than Iraq because i've had two friends "visit paradise" (as you put it), on more than one occassion. Plus I'm just a bit more supportive considering some of the politics behind Iraq. Regardless of all this, it was that you are from Tullahoma that really grabbed me. My grandparents lived there for a while and I used to stay with them a lot in the summer when I was in my early teens (many years ago). They ended up moving to other smaller towns to in W. Tenn. eventually.
But I also had to just write and say, as a mostly "liberal democrat," just wanted to make sure at least some of you know, we (well, most of us) are behind you 100%. I wish you the best of luck succeeding in this mission and hope you are able to return home with a quickness. Thanks for writing, keep it up! Hope to see you at some point on one of my two favorite television shows.

It is the day to Remember and Pay Tribute to all of you. We are still with you all and think of you daily! I have family and friends in Iraq and everyone I know is praying for you all!

Thanks for another great story. With the exception of Lois my thoughts are along the lines of those already posted so I won't repeat.

Just wanted you to know I do appreciate your "reports", I do appreciate you and support your service and I do appreciate your family for the sacrifices they are making while you are in "the stan". Continue to stay safe and keep us posted on military life in Afghanistan. We DO care and it DOES help us to hear it from YOUR prospective.

Thoughts and prayers with you all daily.

It's good to read the posts from Afghanistan. In Canada, we just celebrated (doesn't seem like the right word) Remembrance Day which has a special poignancy this year with a large number of Canadian soldiers in Afghanistan. Soldiers who are dying according to some reports at a rate six times that of Americans in Iraq (bad enough). The Afghan posts certainly seem more positive about the reasons for being there. Certainly, the international support is there (at least in words if not actions).

And Doug, I for one, will look for your book. And be safe.

Captain Doug, Thank you for contributing and keeping us informed about what's going on over there. I am here at least three times a day to see if you have posted anything new. You are my hero! Stay Safe. God Bless You. God Bless America.
Carol M

Lt. please be advised I am a Viet Nam Vet so I know where you are coming from. The congress sometims takes the wrong road as they did with Viet Nam, but take heart we won't let that happen again. I hope and pray!!!!

For what it's worth Afghanistan is very strong in the minds of countries such as Canada, New Zealand, Spain etc because it's where our troops are serving (kiwis are serving in Bamiyan province as part of a provincial reconstruction team).

Even if the US withdraws I don't think the other countries will (whether we actually have enough resources to cope if you do is another question entirely)

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