20 June 2008


We're off for a few nights in tents. We have three "phases" of Civil Affairs soldiers out here. We've got what we call the "10 level," which is folks who are coming over from another field and for whom this is their introduction to what we do. We have our midlevel group, and a small group of more senior NCOs.

This is one of those entertaining fields where training often involves interacting with the local community to get people up to speed on finding key personnel in a civilian community and talking to them. The 10 level students started that yesterday, and beginning tomorrow we'll be riding around with them, doing the "teach, coach, mentor" gig.

So I'll be off the radar until the middle of next week, riding around and offering my valuable insights to new CA soldiers. It should be very special.

And if any of you are in the Court Licks area, and happen to see a bunch of humvees parked behing a convenience store, have no fear. It's not an invasion, it's a coffee break.

18 June 2008

More thoughts from school

It wasn’t until I noticed that my Mom was telling stories about my youthful misbehavior that I even thought of seeing if I could access the blog through the Army computer system here in the classroom. Lo and behold, I can! The system doesn’t seem to jive with Haloscan, but I can post without trudging through the groundhog ambush site to the club.

Anyway...since I don't want to pay attention in any more classes, I have plenty of time to put together long, rambling posts.

We’re getting close to the end of the classroom portion of this, which is A Good Thing. We’ve pretty firmly established at this point that Civil Affairs NCOs, more than any other group in the military, have zero tolerance for foreign civilians.

We wish refugees would get real jobs and move out of camps, we loathe handing out humanitarian assistance supplies, we firmly believe that willful stupidity is an insurmountable barrier to conducting population and resource control operations with any level of force below tanks.

I’ve previously said we have only one soldier in our group who hasn’t deployed. We have a couple others who deployed as something other than CA. But among those of us who have, there is not a single one who has not had an HA (humanitarian assistance) drop that:

A – turned into a no-holds-barred brawl

B – involved handing out some asinine and truly useless item that came from some level of “Higher”

The Afghanistan folks cornered the market on B. That operation gets more international support, and so they get a wider variety of stuff. Including children’s underwear with celebrity images emblazoned on them, courtesy of (wait for it, it won’t be a surprise), the people of Japan.

We agreed that the concept of targeted HA drops almost entirely escapes maneuver unit commanders, who seem to be big fans of just handing crap out because Iraqis (and Afghans) like crap. We’d prefer they consider our input on issues like which populations need stuff, which populations deserve stuff, and which populations might be bought for our side with stuff. Our mission is really, really, really not to put a smile on a child’s face. It really, really, really is to wean the people of these countries off their dependence on American handouts.

But of course, soldiers like children and, since the current policy on war trophies sucks, it seems that the one thing everyone wants to take home is a picture of them handing a Beanie Baby to an urchin. We have had no luck convincing any of them that Beanie Babies are not Humanitarian Assistance items, and, thus, CA should not be responsible for them.

[sigh] I thought it was just us, but I was wrong. At least I know I’m not alone.

15 June 2008

One score

and ten years ago, a woman in Michigan was, after many (very many, if you ask her) hours of labor, presented with a shrieking infant. The woman and her husband had planned to name the infant Edwin if it was male, and Rachel if it was female.

The baby was a girl but it did not, according to the legend, look like a Rachel. It looked, the story goes, like an Abigail.

The woman was Mom, the husband Dad, and Abigail was, of course, yours truly.

Today is the big Three-Oh.

I find it a little depressing to be 30, but it certainly does beat the alternative. Rumors abound that this would be an appropriate point to grow up and act like a responsible adult, but they are unconfirmed rumors, so I won't be making that a priority.

In honor of this momentous day, I have for you a picture of a groundhog here at Court Licks.

It's like a hobbit birthday, in which my guests get presents!

EDIT: Hey! I can't see the full comments with the Army internet, but I am fairly sure my Mom is NOT allowed to tell stories!