30 January 2009

Dog (deprived)

We sat outside, the Boss and Roommate and I, discussing the latest Bright Idea from Higher.

It was, I declared, the absolute Stupidest Damn Thing I Ever Have Heard. In fact, I further elaborated, it sounded like the end product of a branding meeting conducted by rhesus monkeys. No, I corrected myself, since I am under the impression that rhesus monkeys are kinda bright and capable of learning simple tasks, this latest Bright Idea sounded like something that was dreamed up by carp. Or tree stumps. I folded my arms and glared.

You are, the Boss pointed out, one angry lady.

I shook my head. No, sir, I explained, that's just not so. I could deal with stupidity and the silliness and the fact that my feet kinda smell funny 'cause I wear boots all the time, but they made me leave my dog at home.

And it's true. What a morale boost one of my dogs would be. Better, I daresay, than even beer. Either dog would work just fine here.

Sparky would have his pluses, what with being small and a good sleeping companion and being the Scourge of Mice.

He could sit in my lap while I read and I could tote him around in my assault pack. Or maybe I could even get some sort of specialized ACU-pattern MOLLE-compatible Yorkie-toting device.

Jack, of course, would fit right in.

Maybe he'd do some floor peeing during the occasional indirect fire event, but other than that, he'd be super. I have a beanbag chair I won in a USO raffle he could sleep on, and he could trot around the FOB with me. He'd be great company for porch-sitting, and excellent for cleanup at our team cookouts. The interpreters do not seem fond of dogs, so he'd keep them away from our CHU. And if he could get past the fact that the few windows on an MRAP don't open, and so there's no sticking one's head out, he'd even be great on mission.

Alas - no. Although I would have been more than willing to bring a dog either large or small, Uncle Sam has said no dogs. And so we're left with FOB cats. Because of our rodent problem, the Powers That Be have declared the cats allowed, as long as nobody pets them (because then they'd cease being vector control and become pets, right?).



You know, I'm just saying, the last time we really no-crap won a war, there were dogs all over the place. Working dogs, sure, but look at the pictures. Pet dogs, too. (Seriously, go look at the pictures - they're great)

US Army with pet dogs - defeats Nazis, saves world.
US Army with cats - six-year involvement in low-intensity conflict, of which both the causes and likely outcome are still sorta iffy.

29 January 2009


We were out and about today, introducing a new manuever unit to the AO. We hit a meeting, a couple of ICERP projects (school addition, complete; health clinic, progressing very nicely), drove past a couple of key points. Then we got to the part where the outgoing manuever unit wanted to introduce the incoming manuever unit to a local "sphere of influence."

The gentleman in question, a retired general from the old regime, exerts significant influence in part of the AO. His support of coalition efforts has, without a doubt, contributed substantially to the security improvements in the area.

We needed to talk about some election site security issues and do the introductions, so we parked the trucks in his compound, set most of the dismounts to playing soccer with the children, and headed into his "conference room" for chai and conversation.

It's a very nice conference room. The Iraqis don't seem to have figured out the concept of the "vacuum cleaner," so one of the ways the general keeps his conference room nice is by insisting footwear be removed before entry.

A little weird - I know - but at this stage of the game, if we've decided you're wearing a White Hat, and you want us to take our boots off, we take them off. So, sock-footed, we filed in. My part of the conversation was extremely brief, and I had time to sip my godawful sweet chai and look over the new guys we'll be working with.

Platoon leader...has his little book out, looks engaged, is participating in the conversation. Good. Platoon sergeant...looks like he'd rather be kicking in a door and whacking someone, but is paying attention. Good. Random second lieutenant...trying to follow the conversation, tapping his foot, which makes him look bored and...what the Hell?

Remember, dear readers, when your Mom used to tell you to wear clean underwear in case you ended up in the emergency room?


Bad enough that it looks tacky, but a dead giveaway of a military man whose training didn't involve nearly enough forced marching.

One of our Iraqi hosts must have seen my double-take, because he looked too and very nearly snorted scalding chai onto the nice conference room rug.

Fortunately, that part ended quickly, and we adjourned to the outdoor picnic area and ate far too much food. Good food, too. Kinda sad that we eat better out there than we do on the FOB, but such is life. It's rough out here, folks.