November 20, 2008

Name: GruntMP
Posting date: 11/19/08
Returned from: Afghanistan
Training for: Iraq
Hometown: Springfield, MA

(Editor's note: Longtime readers will remember GruntMP's contributions to The Sandbox from Afghanistan in 2006-7, including his tribute to Scott Lundell,  Rest in Peace. As he and his unit prepare to head for Iraq he has begun chronicling their deployment, and we welcome his return to the site.)

We have been here for just over two weeks and this is the first time I've had the chance to sit down and write. It seems that we are finally in a rhythm and I'm not running around all over the place 18 hours a day, which is nice. Things are starting to come together.

I am beginning to realize that this deployment will be very different from my last one, working as an MP officer rather than a freewheeling ETT.  I'm glad I was an ETT first. Working in two-man teams meant I was either the gunner or the driver whenever we left the wire, so I can look my soldiers in the eye and tell them I've been there and done that, and give them advice based on my experience not just textbook answers.

I was afraid I wasn't going to be able to get much reading done in preparation this time, but I think I'll have sufficient opportunity to get through some very relevant material. I won't read the 14 or so books I read prior to deploying to Afghanistan, but the books I do read will provide me with a lot of relevant information that will help me better understand Iraq and the religious divides between the Shia and Sunni.

I finished Packing Inferno: The Unmaking of a Marine, by Tyler E. Boudreau, and Inside the Jihad: My Life with Al Qaeda, by Omar Nasiri. Tyler is a very capable writer, but I think at our cores he and I are very different creatures. I do not grapple with the moral conflicts that led to his undoing. Not because I drank the Kool-aid -- I've always considered myself a JuicyJuice kinda person -- but because by and large I always strove to maintain my individuality regardless of the institutions that I have been a part of. Just a personal observation. I could be completely off base, but I hope not.

Inside the Jihad was not bad once all was said and done. The closing statements to the book were probably the most interesting. It provided some interesting  insight into life in the Jihadist camps in Afghanistan in the mid-1990's. I liked it. I'm going to begin reading two more books tomorrow.

Oh before I forget, we (my company) have a web page that we are going to use throughout our deployment. It is already up and running, and there are photos of the going away ceremony in Taunton. I wasn't there for it, as I came down here two days ahead of the company as the Officer In Charge (OIC) of a small advanced party. We laid the ground work so things were in place when the Main Body (the rest of the company) got here. The site also has photos of some of our training, and as this progresses the site will be a good source of information. There are some really beautiful photos on there.  

"The Nation that makes a great distinction between its scholars and its warriors will have its thinking done by cowards and its fighting done by fools."

    -- Thucydides



best to you and your troops. i have 2[army doc,navy engineer] 2 deployments each. engineer just back from working sadr pointman nam 68-69.afghan a mess.iraq can get back to that way an address so we can send packages. let the guys say what they'd like in them. will be following blog and careful out there.mike

Good luck to you and your Soldiers. I just returned with the 65th PAOC (out of the Lexington Armory) this summer. At least it won't be so hot by the time you get over there.

Stay safe, Sir.

Beautiful photographs. Thanks for posting. As a former classics scholar, I love the Thucydides quote, by the way!

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