Friday, May 18, 2007

This is the end... for now

Well I just wanted to let everyone know that I will no longer be post blogs on my site anymore and have made my old posts inaccessable. It has come to my attention from others in positions where they have more knowledge on this subject than I, that I was saying things that needed not and should not have been said. For this I am deeply troubled for I never meant for ever such a thing.

I began this project simply as a way to keep track of everything that I did while here in Iraq, so that I would have a detailed account of my deployment here. As word spread and people began coming to my site to check things out and with the positive responses I recieved, this project turned from a personal thing to one in which I hoped so allow people a view through a tiny window into the world of the American soldiers fighting a war for peace in a country halfway across the globe.

My intention was never to give any information that may be used inadvertantly by anyone, even including our ever more computer savay enemy. I was intentionally vague on many accounts, for fear of giving away even the slighest of information that should not have been. Unfortunatly I made mistakes, and due to this I will no longer be posting to avoid any future mistakes. The most important thing to me right now is the accomplishment of my mission and bringing my troops home alive. This has a higher priority than anything else, and thus takes precedence over anything outside of that scope.

I do want to thank everyone who had read my blogs in the past and the comments and emails that I recieved. Even though I do not know you, and you not know me, it helped to recieve the letters of encouragement and simple thanks. And for that I say thank you.

I will continue to keep record of my experience here, this time in my own personal log. I have always had the desire to write a book, and at the encouragement of many of my readers, I just may do that when I return to the states as my time in the Army expires. Hopefully I will be able to give a better view of the life of an average soldier, serving his country in a time of war, when that day comes. So forgive me for suddenly cutting the cord, so to speak, but I hope that you all will understand the reasons.

In closing I will leave you with an article that was forwarded to me via email, by Phillip Carter, in which he makes mention of my blog! :) I thought it a great honor to even of been considered for such a thing! Thank you Phil.

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http://www.slate.com/id/2165916

Literary Battle Fatigue
The Army can regulate soldiers' blogs and letters—but it shouldn't.
By Phillip Carter
Posted Wednesday, May 9, 2007, at 4:54 PM ET

In the name of "operational security," the Army established new regulations last month that sharply restrict the content of letters, e-mails, blogs, and articles written by military personnel, and require a security review before they can be published. (Ironically, the regulations were themselves restricted for security reasons; Wired got a copy and published them online.) To defend the new rules, the military cited reports that al-Qaida and other terror groups have been trolling the Internet for useful information about how American units fight on the battlefield. After a brief flurry of criticism, including some from Congress, the Army backed down somewhat, saying it would not enforce the new regulations strictly by reading every letter and e-mail home from soldiers in the field.

As a legal matter, the Army's case for its new regulations is bulletproof (sorry). The military has near-total authority to make regulations in this area, because federal law exempts the military from the procedures other agencies must follow to make rules, and because courts almost always defer to military expertise in these cases. Given past precedent, it's virtually certain that no court would overturn these rules in favor of a soldier's First Amendment rights. But the easy legal analysis here masks a much harder policy question: How much speech should the Army tolerate from its troops? In answering, we must consider the extent to which military blogs, articles, and e-mails have helped to bridge the country's growing civil-military divide—and in fact actually helped the war effort.

Veterans make up a shrinking part of American society. As the generations that fought World War II, Korea, and Vietnam fade away, there is no cohort of twenty- and thirtysomething draftees to take their place. About 2.5 million Americans serve today in uniform—just 0.84 percent of the total population and 2.83 percent of people of draft age. The 1980 U.S. Census counted 28.4 million veterans in American society; the VA counts just 24.5 million today. And as their numbers shrink, these military folk are concentrating themselves in geographically insular parts of the country, going to live near the largest military bases in the South and Midwest. These demographic shifts have a profound effect: Most Americans have little or no personal contact with the military.

Soldiers' blogs, e-mails , and articles from the front thus help expose Americans to perspectives they would otherwise not hear. Citizens who care about the war can learn a great deal through insightful news coverage (subscription required) or they can read about it in one of the excellent books published about the war. But these third-person reports simply cannot convey the visceral immediacy of a soldier's letter home or blog, nor offer the same unfiltered voice. Consider this blog posting from a paratrooper in Iraq describing the news that one of his buddies had been killed (typos are in the original):

After a few minutes our First Sergeant came in and shut the door. He wore a terrible expression on his face. We all knew what was coming, just wondering who. And sure enough the words came from his mouth.

"I just wanted to put out to you guys before the rumors got started. Today SGT Tollett was out with the CO and was shot in the head. He didn't make it."

The room became a dungeon of fear, anger, sorrow and pain. I couldnt believe what I had just heard. I had just seen him right before he had left and had talked with him briefly. How, why could this of happened? What happened? So many questions, but the same end result. One of our fellow soldiers, a brother in arms, and a friend, lost his life. We wern't particularly close, but I had come to be friends with him durring this deployment. I know people have nothing but good things about people after they're death, but this man truely was a great man. He was loved by everone in the company, and probably the worst guy to have ever died from our company here. And I truely mean that from the depths of my soul.

This really put things in to persepective. There wasn't much that could have been done in the situation to of prevented this. It was a lucky stary round that had found had hit in a lethal spot. It could have been anyone else. Thats the sad thing about war. Theres never knowing who or when or what or how. It simply comes down to if its your time or not. And even though we all come over here knowing that this is war, and this is a real possibility here, it still caught everyone off guard. Until that day, noone from our unit had been killed. Im sure others, as well as I held on to that slight hope that all of us would somehow make it home from this place. Maybe I was naive to believe this, but I, as well as everyone else now know the true cost and its not something that can be measured in dollars, or planes or time.

All I know now is that there is a score to be settled. This now became more personal that it ever was, and I feel sorry for the future SOBs that cross our path.

It's especially important to encounter these voices given the general disconnection from the war effort. Our democratic processes for making and managing war break down when so few Americans have a personal stake in the outcome—especially among the elites.

Soldiers' voices may also help our military machine function better, as well. To be sure, militaries require discipline, and they work most efficiently as ordered societies in which individuals work together as a team to accomplish a mission with minimal griping. But the squashing of dissent can go too far. In Iraq, where I served last year in the volatile Diyala province, I saw military hierarchy and culture conspire to spin or block negative or pessimistic reports from traveling up the chain of command, or to silence dissenting views before they could reach the generals in Baghdad. Headquarters did this because it saw its job as distilling and filtering information from the battlefield so senior officers could see " the big picture." Yet Iraq is a land that confounds national strategies and generalization; the devil is truly in the details. When organizational filters insulate top military leaders from these facts, their decisions suffer, as does the mission.

It's by circumventing organizational filters that blogs and soldiers' writings allow unconventional and controversial views to percolate up to senior leaders and the public. An important article in the Armed Forces Journal by Army Lt. Col. Paul Yingling illustrates the point. For years, the Army's general officer corps congratulated itself for its stewardship of the Army during America's wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Yingling, who is one of the Army's "jedi knights" trained at its elite School of Advanced Military Studies, wrote that today's generals in Iraq failed to commit sufficient resources, failed to understand the dynamic situation on the ground after April 2003, failed to adapt to these changed circumstances, and then failed to tell their civilian political leaders about the risks of these choices. The article should have provoked self-examination among the Army's generals. (Though friends in the Pentagon tell me it has been met by deafening silence.)

The new Army regulations would likely squelch dissents like Yingling's, along with the many other journal articles and professional exchanges about the war that have contributed much to public knowledge. Such discussions and Web sites are now increasingly restricted to Army personnel only. This policy constricts the Army's marketplace of ideas by preventing civilians from participating in professional discussions about strategy and tactics. Such rules are particularly myopic for an interagency effort like counterinsurgency, where the best ideas may come from academics, contractors, or State Department employees.

The war against al-Qaida and Islamic fundamentalism is as much a war of ideas as a war to be fought by our military. Right now, even Donald Rumsfeld agrees that fight is being won by al-Qaida. One cannot run a Google search for Iraq without calling up dozens of jihadi videos and blogs (in Arabic and English) that portray the war from the other side's perspective. By imposing these Draconian regulations on its own troops, the Army has taken its best soldiers out of the fight and ceded this ground to the enemy.

Phillip Carter, an attorney with McKenna Long & Aldridge LLP in Los Angeles, is a former Army officer and an Iraq veteran


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13 comments:

White Rose said...

I am sorry to hear that you are not going to be posting any more, but do understand. I think it would be great to maybe make a post once in a while to let us know that you are still alive and kicking. You don't have to go into any detail about where you are or what you are doing, just let us know that you are OK. I look forward to hearing or reading your stories when you decide to post again. Best of Luca and be safe.

alexa kim said...

Totally understand dear Soldier, no worries.

We'll be patient and wait for you to come back when you can.

Thank you for your service to America, to the world. You have my gratitude, today and forever.

Torii said...

Sorry to hear, but glad to know what's more important to you. When you do write that book, let me know. I'll be first in line to buy it.

John said...

I'm really going to miss reading your incredibly honest account of your life there. I got to feel, at least for a little while, that I was finally reading the truth. I hope to hear more from you in the future. God bless and keep you.

Anonymous said...

you make yourself look better then you really are

Lou said...

Sorry to see you go, Airborne. I really enjoyed reading your stuff.

~~karoline~~ said...

i'm sorry you're shuttin' down, keeping you in our thoughts..

stay safe..
k

Trixie said...

I am sorry to hear this,it's unfortunate that we as American's have to resort to "Soldier's Blogs" to get the real truth, about this war. I for 1 know first hand my husband has just finished his 3rd 1 year tour over there, and I know what is actually going on over there isn't whats reported on the evening news both good and bad! You hang in there, write a book, your a great writer.

Stay strong, stay safe and my prayers are with you and your unit and all of our men and women serving in this war as well as your family.

Peace to you. Thank you for what you do.

Wolf Lover Girl said...

Sorry to see you go after I just found your site, however I highly understand.

Good luck to you and keep safe!

~ Wolf Lover Girl

COMBAT MEDIC said...

well airborne....

seems the ham handed censor for fascism has laid freedom of speech low again.

its one thing to avoid tactical and site details of combat in a posting, but quite another to take opinion and ideas out in the same stroke by the authoritarians hand.

this is not freedom and why I fought... i am writing my reps and spreading the word... we will not have fought or died in vain as long as airborne and the tens of thousands of combat vets keep telling our real boots on the gound story.

when you come back home join us in the hood and on the streets and organise for a real democracy.

we the people will rule if we are willing to seriously take back our lives from the rich and connected.

the bosses in the work place and in the pulpit, the state houses and the banks have shown they are not worthy of our sacrifices.

when the people lead...

the bosses parish.

In freedom, not fascism...

combat medic
charley

1/187, 1/508 Abn.
82nd ABN.DV. 1963-66
DOM. REP. 04/-07, 65

Anonymous said...

Fighting for the freedom, 2 blog!

The pen is indeed mightier than the sword. Ha Ha Ha

myhead said...

the freedom of speech is (un)touchable.

dk said...

I have read about your blog on spiegelonline.de today. Its a really schame, that I cant read no more about your "experiences" in the army. So if your book is down, just drop me a line.

Best wishes from germany and keep safe
DK