Sunday, September 25, 2005

Firepower Forward Five is back from R&R

Firepower Forward 5 has a very descriptive account of how it is to return back to the unit after mid-tour leave. It gives me some insight into what my boyfriend is going through and thinking on his journey back to Afghanistan. An anecdote about the soldiers' reception in Ireland had me near tears:

After a 3 hour layover in Shannon Ireland, we are called to board. 200 soldiers begin making their way out of the small terminal towards the gate. Several of the American tourists in the terminal position themselves near the door and shake hands with soldiers or clap them on the back wishing them good luck as the exit. I remember visiting Dublin last year and having our host go out of her way to show me some anti-Bush posters on lamp posts and billing them as a general indictment by Ireland against the war. Today though, as I near the terminal exit, I hear the clapping start sporadically then rapidly spread throughout the terminal. Looking over my shoulder I saw every person in the terminal on their feet applauding. My eyes misted over as our contingent made our way out of the terminal and back towards harms way, thankful for the hospitality of the Emerald Isle.

Another Chinook down in Afghanistan

The news of the Chinook which crashed this morning in Afghanistan woke me from my post-R&R reverie. Although I received an email from the FRG stating that the helicopter was not from my boyfriend’s unit, I was also soothed by the knowledge that he was still in transit returning after mid-tour leave. My relief is someone else’s heartache. I can’t help but feel weepy, because the reality of the dangers of my boyfriend’s job are suddenly shoved in front of my face once again.

In the seven months his unit has been in Afghanistan there have been 5 Chinook crashes: three deadly with no survivors, and two with no serious injuries. In the meantime, I can only remember of hearing of one Chinook crashing in Iraq, a Blackwater Securities Chinook downed by ground fire. Flying conditions in Afghanistan are deadlier for helicopters than Iraq, the high elevation and sudden unforeseeable sand storms are proving deadlier factors than enemy fire.

My thoughts are with the families going through the emotional rollercoaster of casualty notification.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Blogging Hiatus

Well, in a couple of hours I will be picking my boyfriend up at the airport for his 2 weeks of R& I probably won't post anything for the next fortnight.

Did I mention I am so freakin' excited?

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Standard MSM reporting

I found this article about army helicopters in Afghanistan at Mudville's.

The headline: Choppers leaving troops high & dry.

Hmmm...that's kind of offensive...makes me think that the helicopter crews are somehow letting the troops down...wrong choice of headline.

Rank may have its privileges, but it is no exception when waiting to hop a ride with the tiny fleet of choppers the Bush administration has committed to the Afghan war.

Okay...are you saying there should be more helicopters, just so that no one has to wait? This is obviously written by a civilian...they have NO concept of what it means to be in the "hurry up, and wait" military.

Basically the core of the journalist's argument is in this one paragraph:
Typical of the frustration was the executive officer of an 82nd Airborne battalion stranded for three weeks at a rear camp. The camp, near the Pakistan border, was just 12 miles from the base he was trying to reach.

Okay...that definitely isn't good.

In the more remote areas, the only hope to get anywhere is a regularly scheduled "ring" flight by a Chinook unloading supplies at several bases in a loop, which may or may not arrive, thanks to war or weather.

So if it's the weather and the combat conditions that decide whether or not a helicopter will fly, how will increasing the fleet help this situation?

To make up for the dearth of flights carrying ammunition, food and mail, a Special Forces base like Camp Tillman on the Pakistan border depends on special deliveries. Fruit might arrive in aging Soviet MI-8 choppers flown by civilian contractors, or vegetables by Afghan trucks.

Why is it wrong to outsource delivery of certain items, if those deliveries happen reliably, which the article doesn't seem to deny?

Seats on the rare chopper flights are usually shared with a stack of huge Hummer tires - testament to how rugged travel overland is on the rocky ruts that pass for roads along the Afghan-Pakistan border.

Your point being? I mean, sometimes there are generators being flown too...a testament to the lack of electricity in the region. Sometimes spare parts of A/C units are being flown, a testament to the occasional comforts certain FOBs have. Sometimes water is being flown, a testament to the lack of running water in the region.

Basically, this journalist just wants to bitch. He wants to bitch about the remoteness of some FOBs, he wants to bitch about how hard it is for the soldiers to survive in the rugged landscape. He wants to bitch, that if there were better organization, this war could be fought in a more comfortable um, downtown New York. Well, good thing this guy is just a journalist, and never considered being a soldier. I seriously, didn't get the point of that article.

Update: Teresa's 2 cents.

Initial government response to NOLA a total failure, individual response heroic

The initial official response to the New Orleans situation is just an embarrassment. However, the stories of individual heroism are truly inspiring. And it seems to be that these stories are proving to be the norm, even though all we have seen lately on television is the looting and complete disaster of the Superdrome. Stories of individuals ferrying out families on private boats, or getting people together in safer areas, or even commandeering buses to drive people out partly make-up for the lamentable stories of gross-mismanagement the part of those who were supposed to be in charge.

We can quibble over who is responsible: I am personally of the opinion that the blame is to start at the level of the mayor, then the governor, and then the federal level...and others believe it goes the other way around. It doesn't really matter, the end result is that those who were responsible, let down in a big way.

And those who picked up the slack are heroes.

Thursday, September 01, 2005


This morning I turned in my thesis (with the help of some really great friends, who held my hand through the whole process). I was able to sigh with relief, but now the vacuum is being filled with anticipation of my boyfriend's upcoming R&R. In less than a week we should be seeing each other.

Today, when walking through the city, a guy walked past me, and my senses were shocked. And I wondered why I was suddenly noticing this man...and then I realized it. He wore the same cologne as my boyfriend. And all this excitement rushed to the surface, because soon I will be reunited with the guy who makes that cologne smell so sweet for me.

It's so hard to grasp. We are over a half-way through the deployment now, and his leave will be like a mini-homecoming. I mean, he is not home for good, but for two weeks we will be able to have carefree time together.

I was looking through some old emails, and found one that I had written to Sarah back in February, before my boyfriend had left and before her husband had returned:

It's nice to read your posts about your giddiness awaiting the return of your hubby. I am really looking forward to this year for some reasons too, I see it as a year of personal growth and testing the strength of our relationship. I guess part of it, also because I can only imagine the joy of being reunited with him.

And soon I will no longer just have to imagine that joy...