US Army

Centennial Ball

Centennial Ball

This was the portrait taken at the Tacoma Armory Centennial Ball on December 6, 2008.

She's pretty.

Sig

Unfit to serve

In which Sig complains bitterly about the lies of a soon-to-be-former soldier in his unit.

[With a grammar fix, updates, and more linkage]

"As a side note, when SIGINT people think you are standoffish and weird, you probably should seek professional assistance."

Staff Sergeant Sig

In which Sig expounds upon why his newly exalted rank is a mixed blessing.

Грузия

Грузия ("grooziya", roughly) is Russian for Georgia.

That's pretty much my total contribution to the current crisis.

For some informed commentary, more pro-Russia (well, less anti-Russia) than you are likely to see elsewhere, check out Saakashvilli's War from Sean's Russia Blog. I don't necessarily agree with all of his points, but it's definitely a different picture than is being painted in most of the media coverage I've seen.

(I would note that according to some of the accounts I've read, no ethnic Georgians were allowed to vote in the first independence referendum, which would suggest that it wasn't exactly definitive.)

Given the tensions involved and how close and mixed up everyone is, it wouldn't surprise me to find out some day that some jackass with a sniper rifle started it all when he picked off a few Georgian soldiers.

Sig

Getting NCOified

What homework? It's day two of Basic Noncommissioned Officer Course, better known as BNCOC or "bee-knock." As my beloved pointed out, this would more logically be pronounced as "bean-cock," but for some reason that version has not become popular.

What have we done?

I think it was five beers in total. Not much when I was in college, perhaps, but I'm older now and out of practice.

We talked about the Army, and Afghanistan, and the people we brought over, brought back, and left behind. We ate some excellent steaks. We heard the stories again, and we told the stories again, and we didn't interrupt when we heard one we'd heard before, because we know that the secret is in the telling, not the hearing. We asked the questions that shouldn't be asked, and we left unvoiced the questions that others ask, because they've been asked and answered before--water under the bridge.

I saw the valleys and the mountains, and I smelled the gun smoke and I heard the zipzipzip of incoming rounds and I felt the Humvee rock on its springs as the F-18s released their concussive payloads, and I saw again the local nationals who have bet it all on our notoriously fickle public policies, and I felt the SAW hammer at my hands, the ratatatatatatatatataPING as the casings ricocheted off the roof of the truck and then off the front glacis plate. I felt the frustration of 11 time zones of separation from my beloved. I heard the haunted tones from comrades who were seeing their own visions from OEF VII.

And I wondered whether we are draining painful blisters when we reminisce about the defining moments in our lives, or whether we are merely picking half-healed scabs...

Sig

American soldiers murdering a helpless local national

Warning--this video is not for the faint of stomach. This is SGT (now SSG) Smallville's finest hour, when he single-handedly bludgeoned an Afghan rattus to death in our temporary barracks while the other American soldiers present laughed and took pictures. In addition to the graphic carnage, there is some soldierly language.

[Video embedded in full entry.]

I'll be easy to find--just look for the crater.

They finally found SSG Maupin. A PFC when he went missing in Iraq in 2004, his remains have finally been recovered. While it was somewhat galling to be out-promoted by a dead guy (and yes, I realize how petty that sounds), I think that practice is absolutely appropriate--you do not count an American soldier dead until you find the body. And even then, approach with caution and give it a poke or two.

In From the Cold has the money quote:

In response, we'd say that you can’t put a price tag on final resolution for the families of missing military personnel. Sergeant Maupin and Major Woods went to war with the expectation that their country would do everything possible to bring them home again. We have the same obligation to all military personnel who remain unaccounted for, with no regard for the expense, or how long it takes.

Amen.

Sig

I felt more welcome in Afghanistan.

In which Sig refuses to make predictions about the impending March 15 war protest at the Tacoma Mall.

"....Re-up? You're outta your mind!"

"....Re-up? You're outta your mind!"

I wish I'd thought to get names, but this is some joe from C/2-87 INF taking a moment from our busy mission of getting mortared and shot at to re-enlist in the United States Army. This was on a ridgeline deep in Helmand province last summer, where we were attacked four times during our 18-day visit.

Sig

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