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'M IN |

December 20, 2006

WHY I'M IN
Name: Army Girl
Posting date: 12/20/06
Stationed in: Afghanistan
Milblog url: http://desertphoenix.blogspot.com

"Why do you stay in the military?", my friends and family ask me, and I look at them, dumbfounded. I have to pause and stop myself from saying something really hurtful and sarcastic. There's a war going on. Two, in fact. There are people being buried in mass graves, children starving and women so desperate that they'll come up to you on the street and beg you to take their baby girls home with you to America. They single me out because I'm a woman. And despite my weapons, my uniform and everything we use for protection and intimidation, they know, they think, they want to believe, that their daughters would have a better life with me than they themselves can give them. They must sense that my heart breaks every single time I think about it.Framedarmygirl_drawing_1

I serve so that these women have the hope of bringing their daughters up without subjecting them to the kind of life they have had to live. Americans have it so great, and don't get it. Any one of those women could have been my grandmother, 50 or so years ago, in Korea, trying to give away her daughters -- a burden on the family, another mouth to feed, another dowry to come up with. I know that my amazing, generous, self-sacrificing and beautiful grandmother could never have imagined that she would have a daughter like my mom, whose strength and pride brought her through so many hardships, successes and struggles. Or granddaughters like my sisters -- giving, intelligent, and the world theirs to conquer. Or me, someone who despite everything and no matter how hard I try, will never be even one one-hundredth of the person she was. All I can do is hope to honor her memory by living my life to the fullest, whatever that entails, and holding on to that. Being true to myself, my heart, my dreams and what makes me tick.

It just occurred to me that of the girls that I'm close to here, one was born to Iranian parents (and she's served several more years than I have, and really cares), another was born to Philippino parents (and she's dedicated herself to this mission completely), and another is of Mexican heritage (and she's outside the wire as I write this). All of these girls are trying to bring to Afghanistan something more than what they have. I can't speak for them all, but I know that's why I'm in, and will stay in, this fight in one capacity or another, until my time is up and I've given all that I have to give.

Comments

""Why do you stay in the military?", my friends and family ask me, and I look at them, dumbfounded."

I have done the same thing on many occaisions. I am only, just now, starting to realize how much MORE of a sense of duty we soldiers have than those that have never served. Honestly, a lot of people have a hard time fathoming it, and they simply want to understand. And it sure is a tough one to answer when you're thinking to yourself, "Are you kidding me?" :) Great post.

I gave 21 and wish I was young enough to give more. Young lady I know your grandmother would have been proud as I would have been proud had you been mine. Sgt White is quite correct that it is hard for civilians to understand, but most of them do try as best they can and envy your courage. Keep your head down.

ArmyGirl and Sgts. - thanks. As a civilian 'Duty, Honor, Country' may be strange notions to many but not all. Certainly a lot of my friends and family. When my nephew got out of the Corps he was intro'd to the poetry of Rudyard Kipling who spoke to this almost a 150 years ago. I know a lot of military guys who find a voice there that can help communicate - sometimes, with a lot of QRM - with the civvie side of the street.

For what it's worth.

BtW - MacArthur's speech is online at http://www.americanrhetoric.com/speeches/douglasmacarthurthayeraward.html and all of Kipling at http://www.poetryloverspage.com/poets/kipling/kipling_ind.html

You brought tears to my eyes, AG. For the women and girls (and boys and men) who are tortured, oppressed and dismissed as insignificant, I salute and support your efforts on their behalf. As a civilian, I think we need to make organized efforts to support your work through more than just federal funding and appropriations. Just out of curiosity, what three things would you, as soldiers, want us to be doing/providing, etc., back here stateside?

I have always been a "supporter" of these 2 wars and I am very very much a supporter of our troops... Most of us here in the US appreciate what you are doing, and pray daily for God to keep you safe... God be with you during this holiday... I think you would be surprised how many will include you in their prayers before they partake in the holiday feast, I know my family will... It always brings a tear to my eye, especially when I may have forgotten but the one saying our prayer does not... You are not forgotten nor unappreciated... Happy Holidays

Oo, an Asian fighting girl. Are you hot? You look hot in your picture.

Army Girl: No need to compare yourself to your grandmother. You're a tough, accomplished woman in your own right. You should be proud yourself, and those of us who have also served are proud of you as well.

BTW--do you think there is a disproportionate number of immigrants and children/grandchildren of immigrants serving?

Yeah. We used to call that place you are; beyond the paved roads and street lights. Not many Americans go there. Nobody who goes there ever really comes back.

It changes everyone. Some get better, some get bitter. Keep talking to someone, anyone who cares.

But, yes, it's real different there. Come back, make a difference here. We will need you here, too.

Tell me who says we should not be in Afghanistan?

Stupid people all!
and IRAQ was a Morons folly

Wow.. thank you for your comments! I haven't been on here since the beginning of the Sandbox so I haven't read all of the comments and posts but I wanted to see this one..

As far as the questions go, if you'd like answers to some of them, then you'd have to email me. I'm busy with a million things at the moment but I do make it a point to try and answer as many questions as I can when I have time.

Thanks for your support.. really. And CLRUSSO.. thanks for making me laugh!
; )~

...lady, you're not in the US military to bring a better life to the children of Afghani women. You're in the US military to protect and defend the US.

That's what all you "hoorah" people aren't getting, you and all the people in DC and across the US who sent you out there and who are keeping you out there. That's not your job, that's not your duty, that's not what you are sworn to do with your training and US tax dollars.

If you are going to eat dust anywhere, you should be here eating dust along our Southern border, making sure that Juan and Maria don't give their children a better way of life by sneaking them across the US border along with a few kilos of coke and weed in order to buy a "down payment" on the American Dream. Not trying to keep the Taliban from returning to power in Afghanistan. The Taliban, you see, are from Afghanistan, and you, you see, are from the US. What are you going to do, wipe out half the male population of the region in order to give a better life to the females of the region? What about their husbands, fathers, uncles, nephews, brothers and sons? Just wipe them out for the greater female good?

Try to explain away that to your friends the next time they ask you why you are in the US military. You're not in some armed & armored missionary service. And that is why you people are all wasting time, lives and money at high speed.

Army Girl,

In your picture, I was struck by how much you look like the pictures of Afganistani women in thier veils--so much soul showing in your beautiful eyes.

My grandmother was my idol too--If my children hold me in half the esteem I held her I will consider my life a success. You're a success already in all the important ways. You're giving yourself to a cause greater than the latest, greatest gizmo.

When I joined, I was only the 3rd woman in my unit. I was the first woman NCOIC in my section, first woman this, first woman that. When I walked by in my E-5 stripes, heads would literally swivel. I'm so proud of you all and what you are doing for yourselves, for your country and your families. Carry on Soldier--God bless and stay safe.

JP.. if you only knew how ignorant you sound.

I see what you're saying, you're correct in your assessment of our borders being an important issue, however jaded your point is.

As far as Afghanistan and what and why I'm here, leave that to me. It's obvious you know very little about what you're commenting on and a great deal more education is needed on your part in order to even begin any sort of intelligent dialogue/debate.

Get back to me when you take the time and find the inclination to find out what's going on outside of your back doorstep, and I imagine you'll do a good enough job for the both of us, in keeping 'Juan and Maria' from giving their children a better life. You ARE doing something to help other than just criticizing those of us who are trying to make a difference right? I hear the BP is always hiring!

Thank you 'mamaworecombatboots'~

I LOVE that post!

It's because of women like you, that I have it as good as I do today.

I owe you a great deal more than 'thanks' but that's all I've got at the moment..

Have a great holiday!

Army Girl, bringing a better life to any downtrodden, poverty ridden people is always in the US interest. We can't change or kill all the bad guys but the hand that rocks the cradle, rules the world. God Bless

Marry me, Army Girl!
Admittedly, that's unlikely; but really - you're an amazing person and a great writer and you make me proud of my country.

And c'mon, how could this amazing woman with the beautiful eyes not be hot?

Just a remark for JP, above -- and on this point I certainly don't claim to speak for Army Girl, the US, or anybody but myself:

It seems to me that wiping out a good chunk of the male population of Aghanistan is a pretty sound idea. These are guys who believe (and act on their belief) that women who engage in such criminal behavior as thinking, communicating, walking around in the sunshine, and (gasp!) being attractive to men, should be punished with physical violence up to and including rape and murder. Morally, I have no more problem with killing them to promote the collective female well-being than I have with killing Nazi soldiers to protect the collective Jewish well-being. I think it's perfectly appropriate response to their behavior.

Of course, it isn't what's happening. The US government is no more interested in the women of Afghanistan, per se, that it was in the Jews of Europe in 1943. But to the extent that national security goals happen to dovetail with the laudable goal of wiping these bastards out, I think we should consider it a valuable bonus.

Your post reminded me of a story I recently read in the NY Times http://www.nytimes.com/2006/12/15/nyregion/15muslim.html
which ended with the quote: “I changed myself,” she said. “I’m a new Fadwa. Strong female. I like this.”

I suspect the example of strong, courageous and dedicated woman is demonstrating a profound example to the people you meet. And I'll bet that example will inspire the women over there to fight for the same status, no matter how long the fight.

Dear Ivy,
if you think that wiping out a good chunk of the Afghani male population is a pretty sound idea, then don't complain when the rest of the world smiles benevolently on the so-called "terrorists" who try to do the same to us, and those who support us. Or those who would kill us, if they had the chance. Or those who feel that we deserve to be killed.

Even so you are still missing the point, probably on purpose. The duty of the US army is not to defend the females in Afghanistan from the males. We might not like the fact that there are Taliban in Afghanistan. But, guess what. As long as there is just one Taliban there, then there are Taliban in Afghanistan. This war will not end as long as we wish to kill Afghanis solely for their religious
beliefs. And if killing people for their religious beliefs is ok by us, then certainly we ask for the same to be done for our religious beliefs, not to mention our political beliefs. When we take it upon ourselves to kill others because we think they deserve to be killed, what do we ask the rest of the world to do to us...in their own self-defense?

First of all AG, I want to say how proud I am that we served together. You are the next generation of sheepdogs? Why sheepdogs? Basically (the original quote was Lt. Col. Dave Grossman's ) there are 3 kind of people: Sheep, Wolves, and Sheepdogs. The vast majority of people are sheep, sweet natured productive, nice people who would not do violence unless in extremis. The wolves are the kind of people that blow up innocents with car bombs, abuse and torture women and children, and cause much senseless destruction. The sheepdogs, people no better than the sheep, are those willing to do violence to protect the sheep. Any sheepdog that would hurt the sheep are obviously not sheepdogs but wolves. After 28 years, I am just too slow to catch wolves, but you, my dear, aren't. So I salute you, my fellow soldier, and honor you as a fellow sheepdog. And...BTW, I hope my daughter turns out like you. God bless and come home safe

Dear Army Girl,
I have 2 children in the Army National Guard and even though it scares the hell out of me I understand the need to do something to make the world a better place. That is why we are here after all. My daughter joined at 17 telling me she would wait until she could sign up for herself without my permission if I made her. I could see she had to do it for more than the GI Bill. I pray for you all every day. Thank You so much! And as for JP. Take your DAMN MEDS! Jackass

Dear Army Girl: Thank you for your service to our nation. And thank you for sharing the fact that we take basic liberties for granted and that independent of religion or political dogma, there is an invisible bond that unifies all women: the desire of a better future for their children. I know is hard to belief that in the 21st century women are still defending their right to be consider an equal member society. You know something...equal opportunty for women in society enables the success of Western societies; democratic foundation and economic strength are a direct result of women active participation in the nation business. The mothers that approach you know that in their hearts. God bless them and you, too. Be safe and have a wonderful holiday.

Army Girl:

I wish you were close by I woul salute you, shake your hand, and then give you a big hug.

You know the WHY!

Thank you all so very much.. and I never thought I would say this, but I'm proud to be called a sheepdog!

;)

Funny thing is that my favorite breed of dog.. and I love animals.. is the Queensland Blue Heeler.. a SHEEPDOG!

Thank you all so very much.. and I never thought I would say this, but I'm proud to be called a sheepdog!

;)

Funny thing is that my favorite breed of dog.. and I love animals.. is the Queensland Blue Heeler.. a SHEEPDOG!

Dear Army Girl, your tounge is very sharp. Yet your thoughts are dull. I do not stop anyone from entering the country...legally. Much like the US-written laws that you are trying to enforce in Afghanistan, we have immigration laws for a reason, very good reasons. But instead of protecting our country here and helping to provide for the safety and security of our country here, you are in Afghanistan obstensibly protecting it from the Afghanis. You know as well as I do that that is not the true mission of the US military. Much less its legitimate mission. Be sure that when your leaders wake up and realize that this country has been overrun with South Americans while you are in Afghanistan violating local laws and customs and killing Afghani males by the thousands in the name of "protecting" Afgani women from their own countrymen, including their own male relatives, that you will still have a country to come home to. And new leaders to follow, a new language to learn, and a new culture to adapt to. One that might not have much tolerance, much less support, for a sharp-tounged woman. Hope you're having a Merry Christmas on the high plains.

"As far as Afghanistan and what and why I'm here, leave that to me. "

ps once you swear that oath and put on that uniform, that decision is not yours to make.

I know better than to add to this *rap but here goes: Geesh, where were our troops when JP's relatives were creeping over the border? There are no indigenous Americans. Even the Sioux started out in Asia.

Go, grrll! You can't fix the world but, twenty or thirty years down the road, Afghans - like the Viet Namese before them - will find themselves a little more like Omaha than they thought possible. Liberty is a seed that often takes a generation to flower.

May you live to see their grandchildren's grandchildren.

AG,
When you have time could you e-mail me? I have been trying to send some stuff to another army girl in Afghanistan & it's not getting there. I'd appreciate any insights you might have privately.

Great post,im a police officer who was in the army years ago and just wanted to tell you i pray for everyone laying their lives on the line in this war. Thanks for your service ag and everyone else still there.

Dear Army Girl,
Thanks for your service. In my view, you seem to have a much clearer idea of the threats facing our nation than many of the others commenting on your post. It is the Taliban and al-Qaeda that are our enemies, and it is their Islamic fundalmentalist philosophy that is behind both their mistreatment of women and their violence against us. The vast majority of the Afghan population does not support these extremists, and this is why the Taliban can only enforce their rules at gunpoint. Most Afghan males would undoubtably be happy with the conservative Islamic social rules of Iran or Pakistan. These are very conservative by our standards, but nothing like what the Taliban have imposed. It is too bad that we don't have another 50,000 troups in Afghanistan to get rid of the Taliban once and for all. The Taliban have already aided al-Qaeda in the 9/11 attacks, and they are very clearly our enemies. I guess that JP must think that we should invite them to attack us again.

JP's suggestion that we'd be better off with the military trying to prevent illegal immigrants from crossing our Southern border is idiotic on several levels. First, illegal immigration is not a serious problem and has nothing to do with drug trafficing. We have, in effect, invited these illegal immigrants to come by making it so easy for them to get jobs. Second, troops on the border won't stop illegal immigrants. They can just get legal tourist visas and overstay them, like half of the illegal immigrants that are already here. Third, if we are really interested in stopping illegal immigration, it is relatively easy to do so by developing a national ID system and imposing stiff criminal penalties for hiring illegals. But, the fact is that most of the country doesn't consider this a serious problem. We are much better off using our army against those who will attack us if they have the opportunity: al-Qaeda and the Taliban.

Dear DB, thank you for your thoughtless rhetoric-laden comments...always ignoring the fact that Afghanistan is a desolate 3rd-world country halfway around the world and the US-Mexican border is, well, just south of Texas and Arizona. And so porus that not only can South Americans slip through almost at will, so can al Queida agents...just about any American "enemy" or "threat" or "problem" can just walk over our border. If not our southern border then certainly our northern border or coastline.

But yep, Afghanistan sure is safe now and you guys can come home anytime and all will continue to be well there.

From reading your comments, a person would think those people had long-range ICBMs, or something. Some way of actually striking the US isntead of relying on Republican/Bush incompetence and self-centeredness. And you'd also think that the influx of desperately-poor Latinos currently overruning the US has no social or economic effect on the US, at all.

But you'd be wrong. Very wrong. In spite of the "you're doing a great job" rhetoric and delusional double-speak.

Carry on with your chosen method of defending the US. After all, the safer the Afghani women are, the less likely they will be to want to attack us. And we know how dangerous those Afghani women are, and how much of a threat the pose to the US. Not to mention the Afghani men. They're not even Saudis, like 19 of the 9/11 hijackers were. You know, the guys who are ready to supply the Iraqi Sunnis if we pull our troops out? I really don't know how you people live with yourselves, to be honest, except through self-deluson, for here we are wasting hundreds of billions of dollars in the Middle East for at beset minimal effect on US security at all (certainly while are in the Middle EAst and relatively unarmed, and we are here and even our Middle Eastern oil supplies are well-protected), all while hundreds of thousands of South Americans enter our country every year and cost us billions in health care and additional law-enforcement requirements. Yet here we are wasting hundreds of billions of dollars so you guy can play games in the sand. Oh, and rack up "combat time" in a war zone. But who is going to fight you, and the corporations making a fortune resupplying you with arms and equipment, when it comes to wasting our time and money? And in the end do you know what you are really doing? You're causing the US government to take out hundreds of billions of dollars in extra bonds to cover the cost of the war. You guys are out there playing your stupid war games and bankrupting this country, which in the end requires us to sell more and more of our hard assets to foreigners. Or...am I missing something? Is there some other spin that you would like to put on all this?

It seems that you "hoorah" guys have to be talked to like children out playing war games in the backyard. It's time for you guys to clean up and come on home. Long past time. And maybe if you weren't out so long making so much of a ruckus and disturbing the neighbors so much, they wouldn't want to come here and disturb us!


yep, you go tell the people in Texas, where they're trying to roll back the 14th amendment, and Arizona and California, Florida is a lost cause, Georgia, South Carolina all the way up to Minnesota and New Hampshire, Maine, Vermont, that there isn't an "illegal immigrant problem". All while these states are struggling to balance their budgets due to the health care load these people are dropping on us, and the price of real estate is rising through the roof as these states try to cope with a rapid doubling of their population. A state like New Hampshire with a population of 650,000 people suddenly discovers that a million and a half people live there. Georgia towns of 20,000 people suddenly become towns of 200,000 people. These people in these sleepy towns look up one day to find that 80% of the people living in their town are Hispanic, then want to march on the White House to get them to cover the cost of social services and to actually seal the border.

Not to mention the effect on the salaries of lower-income US workers.
They say they come here to do jobs that Americans just don't want to do. Well, that means they wouldn't do jobs that Americans *would* want to do, for a lot less than Americans would do them?

Just keep it up, guys. Just think about how you pride yourselves on keeping the Taliban out of Afghanistan.
All while forgetting that AFghanistan is 6,000 miles away, and the US border is far behind you, while an estimated 30million illegals live in this country today, with the average Latino woman having 3 kids apiece.

Like Bush would say, "you're doing a heck of a job of defending the country". From the Taliban and Iraqi insurgents, who, last I heard, were only interested in defending their OWN country from US forces occupying their countries (ie they have their priorities right). Oh, and a great job of acting as local cops for Afghani women. Not ONE of you seems to want to understand that that is not why we have a US military, and not why you are in the service. But that's what delusions are for. To allow you to think that you are doing the right thing in the best way, instead of facing the fact that you are doing the wrong thing in the worst way. And as we all know we've had 6 straight years of delusion in this country, coming straight from the top. Keep on truckin', buddy.

Yeah! Woohoo! Kill the Mexicans! Suspend Posse Comatatus! Yee Haw! JP for President!

JP, I swore I wouldn't respond to stupid blogs written by passionate but uninformed or ingnorant people, but since you've made this entire page about you rather then the soldier who wrote it, why not?

I challenge you to study the isolationist attitudes that the United States has adopted through it's brief history as a nation. Take your time. Open your mind. See where it lead to. I'll give you a hint. Attacks were made on American soil. And the attackers didn't walk into Arizona in any of these attacks (unless you're trying to argue the Whig party stance of the Mexican-American War). This has happened more than once. I challenge you to quell your anger and really look at things from a broader perspective (man, I sound so liberal right now. Kind of weird for someone who has served in three combat theatres in as many years.) I'm not saying that we don't have porous border issues. But I don't think recalling all our troops and making a human chain across our southern border is the best solution.

Get your own blog and leave the truly patriotic alone on theirs.

Army girl, keep up the good work
xoxo, an army boy
De Opresso Liber

Ditch Doc, this isn't about me, and it's not about her, it's about US national security. She is just an example (a self-rationalizing example) of what is wrong with the way this country is being defended. Just as you are an example of what is wrong with looking at isolationism as the source of our current problems, or at sending the US military abroad to solve or prevent problems.

In this case we have problem A, the 9/11 attacks and the reasons behind them, and we have solution B, which is to invade Afghanistan and Iraq. The problem is that solution B doesn't have anything to do with problem A other than the fact that al Queida HQ operated out of Afghanistan, oh, and the fact that the US military-industrial establishment as well as the Republican leadership is well served by sending US forces out to fight them in as much of a conventional war as possible, for as long as possible, as far away as possible. It is all so simple, DD. And it just takes a little bit of delusion to make it work. A little bit of Kool-Aid. For you guys to think that you are doing something effective by trying to run the world according to US morals, all while destroying the morals of the US in practice. Or at least showing just how bad they really are. And giving all these people even more reason to hate us...while leaving the US mainland not only insecure, but fiscally-weakened by your global efforts.

Have a good day doing this, you and all your friends. I hope that one day you wake up and realise that a true patriot does his best to serve his country...not to undermine it in the service of a few well-placed individuals who are merely exploiting their political power and the naievete of the masses for their own economic gain.

In other words, you're not fooling me, she's not fooling me, GW isn't fooling me...not one bit. He's in this for the money and political power. You're in it for the service and the power to kill Afghani males in large numbers, etc. Not a damm one of you is effectively securing this country. We need to get those 500,000 men and women back home and secure the borders and our ports, and free our law-enforcement agents to more effectively root out, deter, and combat illegal-immigrant (including potential terrorist) activity.

But you see, there is no money in that for the administration and its supporters, and no "pride and glory" in that for the troops. And it would hardly be as much fun to shoot and blow up Latinos as it would be to shoot and blow up Muslims, right?

Yes, go ahead and call me ignorant. You're right: I don't know exactly how much money they are making off the GWOT, or exactly how much it is costing the country (all that information is now classified) and I don't know exactly how much you enjoy blowing-up Muslims. I really don't.

Just think about it, those 19 guys have cost this country easily a half-trillion dollars.

Why?

Because someone wrote them a $500 billion dollar check?

Or because too many people in this country are having too much fun killing Muslims in Iraq and Afghanistan, and justifying it with 9/11...ignoring the fact that the 9/11 hijackers were mostly Saudi expatriates?

Ignoring the fact that Afghanistan and Iraq have been massive global recruitment tools for al Queida?

Ignoring the fact that are borders and seaports and even our airports are STILL not secure, 5 years after 9/11?

Why is all that happening?

Because...I've hijacked this thread? Because we're paying the price for decades of isolationism? If you believe that, you've spent way too much time in a chemically-altered state.

oh, and one last thing. This is somewhat obvious to me but perhaps you don't see it, so I'll point it out. The more of them that you kill, the more the rest of them hate us.

Not to mention the more of them that we kidnap, bring here, torture and hold indefinitely, the more of them hate us.

You're not making the situation better, you're making it worse. Now, add in what I said about our insecure country, and the cost of the campaigns in Afghanistan and Iraq.

And then take a long, hard look at what you are doing. And see if you still think of yourself as carrying out your duty in the US armed forces. You guys are acting as judge, jury and executioner to the entire planet. Not defending the US from itse enemies. And certainly *not* in the most effective way, either in terms of lives or money.

All you are doing is fueling the next domestic terrorist attack (not to mention local reprisals against our allies in foreign lands), all while undermining our ability to defend ourselves at home.

killing the stupid ones, who are happy to go out and fight you with an AK-47, while fueling the smart ones, who will be happy to show you where those WOMD really are.

Wow, JP, give it a rest. I'll quote you what is typed at the top of this page, it seems you have overlooked it:

"The Sandbox's focus is not on policy and partisanship (go to our Blowback page for that)"

Doesn't mean that we have to wear blinders in life, dude. Besides, this womans' entire entry is about policy and partisanship. What do you think "Why I'm in" means?

Anyway, I've said my piece. As you say, this is the wrong, er, "forum" for this discussion. But I still stand by what I say. You guys are blowing a trillion dollars, and, um, let me see, 3,000 American lives, on missions that are not appropriate, wise or even productive. But in the meantime have fun doing it.

AG,

You go, girl! I enlisted in the Army in the mid-70's. My Dad was proud (he's a retired Col.) and everyone else thought I was crazy. My beloved grandfather was horrified.

I think I know why you're there. I felt very much the same, even though I was stationed in Cold War Berlin. In addition to my "day job" as a German linguist in Intelligence, I felt a responsibility to represent the best of America - as best I could.

On the only trip I was allowed to make - in uniform - to East Berlin, I was strongly aware of being "officially" "Der Feind" - the enemy. Unofficially, school children would look shyly at me and my fellow uniformed visitors, and you could see the confusion dawn in their eyes at how like normal people we looked - not dangerous at all, in spite of our uniforms. (In that context, anyway...) At lunch that day, my buddy and I were seated next to the wall. The waitress came and went, then came back. Standing very carefully, with her back to the rest of the room, and her head bowed so that no one could see her lips move, she told us quietly how much she admired America and us - and what we stood for. Freedom. And dignity. And care for the world. Politics was part of it, but her gratitude that we existed seemed to have had more to do with our "Norman Rockwell" best attributes.
After that day, I felt compelled to embody those attributes as much as I could.

On the other hand, JP reminds me of the young West Berliners, who were understandably less than thrilled at our occupation of their city. Some of them could be quite rude and thoughtless in their comments. When I'd had my fill, I'd remind them, politely and in German, that they _could_ be having this conversation with a Russian. That usually gave them something to think about and they'd move on.

Enlisting was the single best thing I've done in my life, excepting only my kids and my degree. I've used my experience every day of the past 30-ish years - even in raising my kids. Now, my son is aiming for an Air Force scholarship in Russian, and wants to fly Cargo - both for the mission support, as well as the opportunities to fly humanitarian missions.

JP, Army Girl wrote her entry to explore the question "Why am I in?" This is not usually a partisan issue, even though there may be partisan or even patriotic aspects to it. It usually ends up being a much deeper question, with complex answers that are particular to each soldier. Those answers deepen, develop and shift over time, as mine did.

I joined to "find out if I was strong inside", for adventure, and to take a break from a poor initial choice of major in college. Not the most patriotic reasons despite my dad's rank, and certainly not partisan. Once I was in, I found reasons and depths I could have never imagined.

So, Army Girl... Know that your concern for Afghan women will resonate with the local women. Your mustard seed of care may very well blossom and spread into something those women can now only barely imagine. The seeds you and your fellow soldiers plant now may very well have a similar effect on Afghanistan, that western television and culture had on Central and Eastern Europe.

Go with God, dear - in whatever way you do that. Stay safe. Come home. Know that we "mamas in combat boots" love you and your exquisite eyes, and hold you in our hearts as we do our own lovely, strong daughters and sons. Be the best American woman and soldier you know how to be. I have utter faith that you will represent the rest of us with grace and dignity.

JP,

Just to be clear: I despise Bush et al. Afghanistan was one thing, Iraq was entirely unecessary, IMHO. You are absolutely right in pointing out that the 9/11 hijackers were overwhelmingly Saudi, not to mention Egyptian. So why we chose not to invade either of those countries is one of the great, unasked questions of our time. It has answers that are obvious, I know, but even those answers should be acknowledged publicly by this administration. So, "Yay, you!" for pointing it out.

As for border security, more would-be terrorists have entered, or attempted to enter, the US via Canada, than have ever tried to enter via Mexico. So, since you have such a realistic handle on the actual sources of danger in the Middle East, why do you have so little grasp of reality (in terms of terrorism) when it comes to border security? Is it that we don't want to slap Canada around for many of the same reasons we choose not to invade Saudi Arabia or Egypt? But, it's okay to pick on Mexico, just as it was okay for Bush and company to pick off Iraq?

Just asking.

And I'd like to second Army Girl's suggestion: If you are _that_ concerned with the US-Mexican border, get a job with the border patrol. But get over messing with soldiers, who have NO IMPACT on foreign policy - other than to do their jobs well, and with dignity.

"But in the meantime have fun doing it."

I am JP, thanks for the encouragement!

Army Girl,
I wanted to say thank you. Words seem so little when so much is at stake and actions always speak louder then words. No matter what ANYONE says here, good or bad, mis-informed or informed. People who might be the most 'intellectual sounding people' still might not have a clue. This is what I say. Till anyone walks in your shoes, they have NO ROOM to talk, and that is exactly all they are doing. I wont voice my thoughts, my opinions or my beliefs. Why should I? I am confident in what I think and where I stand. I love the military and will ALWAYS support them (since MOST of my family are enlisted). The military has NOTHING to do with the government (in its policy making) and when people start going that direction, it just really pises me off. If people want to see change, Start in Washington DC. Not at our soldiers who DO keep us safe. My 7 year old son loves you all. We send cards, gift baskets and what not to people we know and even some we don't.

Know this Army Girl. It makes a huge difference and don't let anyone tell you otherwise. You are honored and cherished by so many you may never meet. Perhaps I will email you to tell you who I am and what I do. It is nice to share lives with people who have such a wonderful light about them. And you surely have that. Smile, pray and know that a little boy loves the army here very much. It makes a difference.

Happy New Year and many blessings to you.

Cheers,
Heather

Army Girl, you are very special. I'm a Vietnam vet, and your post brought forth a flood of memories from my experiences in that event 37 years ago. Your heart is good, and you represent what being American is all about. as I read your post, I remembered the day a soldier jumped into a fire which started when the excess powder bags from the artillery pieces on FSB arsenal were being burned. He pulled two little Vietnamese kids from the fire, while being severely burned himself. And I remembered the guys and girls at the 326th Evac who had "adopted" a Vietnamese child who had been orphaned as a result of the conflict. And in a more humorous reflection, I recalled a time when some of the guys in my mortar section "relocated" a deuce and a half full of lumber that was sitting beside the road in Camp Eagle and delivered it to a priest who was building a new structure at the orphanage he ran.

We can say/think whatever we want about the political mismanagement that put me into my situation back when and you into your current situation, but in the end, the heart of the soldier is what makes her or him special. We all know we have some dirty, ugly work to do, but this doesn't seem to overshadow our stronger desire to do what's right for our fellow humans.

Your words are wise, and they reflect a person who knows herself, and whose conscience guides her behavior.

Please do not give JP's postings any credence. His anger and vicious hatred are not the norm, nor are they indicative of what it means to be an American.

Please come home safely. We need you. You make us proud.

Thank you,

Tom

Love your posts, AG.

But I'm very disappointed that you decided to close your desertphoenix blog to the public. One who has talent such as yours does us all a favor by allowing us to read your comments. I don't know why you decided to make your blog "invitation only" but I do hope you will reconsider. Otherwise, how does one get invited?

Wow. So much has gone on since I last visited here.

The words I have and want to say are enough to fill an entire blog all its own.. but I will try to limit them here.

JP, I respect your opinion although don't agree. I respect and understand your PASSION for what you're saying. I admire it because I recognize that trait in myself.

After reading more of your arguments, at first I was a bit defensive, but now I see only someone who believes deeply in something and although I don't necessarily see this issue as passionately as you do, I do understand the emotion you feel about it.

Now, for a little history about me, which is not something I do often.. I spent many years of my life living less than 10 miles from the border of Mexico. You don't have to try to explain to me or to convince me of the necessity for border security. I understand it.

I think each person hears their call to serve in a different way. Mine, comes from my own history and experience. I chose this route because it means something to me, personally. That is what this post was about.

I do not condone your comments about killing Afghan men to protect Afghan women (and for your future reference it is "Afghan" not "Afghani" as the latter refers to money and the former is a person who hails from the land of the Afghans, which is what "Afghanistan" means). I never claimed that this was occurring nor that I witnessed anything of the sort.

Also, for your reference, I did not vote for, EITHER TIME, the current Commander In Chief. I did not swear an oath to protect him nor to harbour his ideals. I swore an oath to
uphold the Constitution of the United States of America. He is, temporarily, my CIC and although I follow orders under this command, I in no way am obligated to carry out orders which
are deemed inappropriate or unethical or in any way defy or violate basic Human Rights or the Geneva Conventions. I have not, nor have I witnessed any such actions that have done this by our soldiers against any enemy.

I can not convince you, nor do I care to attempt to, that what we are doing over there is in any way noble because I'm not sure that anything other than you walking a mile in my shoes would accomplish that.
As I have no evidence that you plan on doing either (join the Army or the Border Patrol) then I will have to follow my own thoughts here and conclude that I will not get any closer to understanding how you
came to feel so passionately about this topic unless I were to walk a mile in your shoes.

I, however, like the shoes I fill at the moment because at the end of the day, I know I did my best. My only regrets are that I don't feel that I've done enough. And although your ideas of what you think I've done are jaded, I know the truth.
If I had done any of the things you accused, I assure you, I'd get less sleep at night than I do. But don't take my word for it.

I just wonder, with all of that passion, what are you doing? I hope that you're putting it to good use.. and are doing something about the things which you feel so passionately about. At the end of the day, did you do your best?
If you can be alone with yourself, and be content.. then I can't fault you for anything. Except that you live in a country that affords you the rights and the freedom to pursue your passion and to DO SOMETHING about the inadequacies you feel with our system and government.. and it seems to me you're doing nothing but venting on DB's Sandbox to a forum of people who aren't here for that.

Just know that there are people out there who want you dead. They don't just want your job, buddy. They want the blood of you and your loved ones fertilizing the earth. Not because of your religious beliefs, or because of the color of your
skin, but because you listen to music, watch tv, breathe. The Taliban are not just killing soldiers. They are killing teachers, children, women and more men than all of the aforementioned, combined. The Taliban didn't just kill women, they slaughtered entire villages and
even tried to exterminate the entire race of Hazaras.. as did the Northern Alliance.

Anyway.. before I go on, if you want to argue your point, I can accept that but when you start postulating and assuming you have even a minute grasp of what's going on in Afghanistan, that's where I call bullshit.

Sorry everyone and DB.. but I had to address this..

As for the rest of you that commented.. I will try to answer your emails this weekend.

My blog was temporarily shut down for personal reasons. It will be back up soon. I hope.

If you want an invite, you may email me at desertphnx@gmail.com

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