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October 4, 2004
Cowboy UpBy Greyhawk
The Beef Steak MRE has a Slim Jim in it for a snack. Now that's Beefy Maybe too beefy. You ever eat a steak and think "If only I had a Slim Jim chaser my life would be full"? No - that thought never occurred to you. And the same meal comes with beans as a side.
From the NY Times story on America and Iraq's smashing success in Samarra: Marines unable to get a foothold in Fallujah. In the same sense that Patton was unable to take Moscow, a failure that ranks right up there with MacArthur's failure to take Beijing.
The Army took Samarra? U.S. and Iraqis together? Well, what about Fallujah?
Recruiting and retention goals met this year? Well, they won't be next year.
But back to the MRE thing: What the cowboys didn't have is a magic heat pouch. We didn't even have them a few years back. Put the food pouch in the heat pouch and just add water and presto! Heat. But the heat pouch isn't really designed to hold two food pouches, so with beans and a steak, what are you gonna do? You see the kind of things I'm confronted with daily. It's a hardship.
Like when sometimes something goes boom and you have to drop to the ground and if you didn't have them on already you put on your cowboy vest and helmet real cowboy fast.
Anyhow, I'm glad to report you can fit both the steak and the beans into the pouch. One's not going to get quite as hot as the other, and neither will get as hot as one alone, but you can do it. Like I said, the cowboys never had it so good.
Now here's something useful in your beefsteak MRE: Tootsie Roll. Mmmmmm tootsie roll. Solid. Dependable. Just chocolate. Since 1896 (the cowboys were still on the range in '96) and I'll bet you haven't had one in forever. You want one now though, don't you?
Really if you see a bunch of guys standing around in boonie hats, flak vests, and boots that's the image that comes to mind, cowboys. Add a slung M-16 and you've got the full 21st-century cowboy look. Wasn't it during Reagan's term that the media decided that "cowboy" was a term worthy of worldwide scorn?
Hey, if you're skipping the MRE and going to the DFAC for lunch here's a hint: the little yellow packages that look just like mustard are taco sauce. I had an unexpected taco burger just the other day. But hey, I'll bet cowboys had those back in '96, don't you think?
If someone wants to make a movie some day a few years out about OIF they can use a cowboy theme. In fact they can just remake the classic cowboy movies with a modern setting. There's a lot of old west around here. We've got forts. We've got Cavalry. And yea, we've got shootouts.
We've got a cast of characters from around the world come seeking their fortunes in a dangerous land.
We could use a saloon though.
I walked into a stall in the latrine the other day and shut the door behind me a little too hard. "Bang" - and the guy in the next stall shouts "What the hell was that?" with a note of panic. "Just the door, man. Just the door."
He can be forgiven for being a bit nervous. There are shrapnel holes in the latrine walls.
Not too far off is a small arms range where the Iraqis train day and night. The firing is virtually non stop, and sometimes bigger things go boom over there. Other spots nearby are used to detonate captured or found explosive ordnance. Usually there's a heads up before something blows.
So most things that go boom are expected. But like I said, sometimes something goes boom and you have to drop to the ground and put on your cowboy vest and helmet real cowboy fast. Sometimes it's detonation of captured ordnance. Sometimes it's training. Sometimes it's a couple dozen children slaughtered by a car bomb at the opening of a sewage treatment plant.
I don't think that ever happened in Abilene.
This from the NY Times article on Samarra again (emphasis added):
But if the Americans were pleased with their success, not all Iraqis were. In Baghdad, the Association of Muslim Scholars, which represents more than 3,000 Sunni mosques around the country, denounced the military operation and accused American and Iraqi troops of widespread atrocities in Samarra. The clerics, who spoke at a news conference in Baghdad, said the military action would undermine any support in the area for the elections.
It was impossible to independently verify his claims.
Based on the story byline (Samarra) and the photos I'd have to guess the reporters were with the troops in Samarra. But they were unable to verify the claims. Which I'm sure is true, but different from stating "they saw no evidence of atrocities".
In fact, this is what they described:
As though a bell had been rung, people began to emerge from their homes on Sunday, gathering in small numbers on some market streets and waving warily at passing convoys of armored vehicles. Here and there, people passed along the hot, dusty streets with white flags waving over their heads.
Nothing about fresh graves in the gardens.
In contrast here's a description of the aftermath of the Baghdad kiddy bombers' work :
Iraqi health officials said 35 of the 42 fatalities from Thursday's blasts were children.
And I don't remember the Association of Muslim Scholars speaking out about the children who died for the sin of wanting MRE Tootsie Rolls. Unless it's what they meant by crisis: "...if the government insists on resolving the crisis in this horrible American way, then we expect that the Iraqi people will not cooperate in any forthcoming election or any other political program."
This horrible American way you know...
Posted by Greyhawk / October 4, 2004 3:44 PM | Permalink
Another not-to-miss read today is Greyhawk's latest from Iraq, entitled "Cowboy Up." He muses on the difficulties of the Beefsteak MRE, the similarity of Iraq to the Old West (in ways both pleasant and unpleasant), and the dishonesty bordering on dis... Read More
November 26, 2010
I think anyone who's ever pondered the "comment" option - once only available on blogs and bulletin boards, now ubiquitous on almost any web site - will appreciate this:
The so-called faculty of writing is not so much a faculty of writing as it is a faculty of thinking. When a man says, "I have an idea but I can't express it"; that man hasn't an idea but merely a vague feeling. If a man has a feeling of that kind, and will sit down for a half an hour and persistently try to put into writing what he feels, the probabilities are at least 90 percent that he will either be able to record it, or else realize that he has no idea at all. In either case, he will do himself a benefit.
That's wisdom from the past, captured for posterity at the US Naval Institute, shared via the web on the institute's 137th anniversary.
From their about page:
"The Naval Institute has three core activities," among them, History and Preservation:
The Naval Institute also has recently introduced Americans at War, a living history of Americans at war in their own words and from their own experiences. These 90-second vignettes convey powerful stories of inspiration, pride, and patriotism.
Take a look at the collection, and you'll see it's not limited to accounts from those who served on ships at sea, members of the other branches are well-represented.
I'm fortunate to have met USNI's Mary Ripley, she's responsible for the institute's oral history program (and she's the daughter of the late John Ripley, whose story is told here). She also deserves much credit for their blog. ("We're not the Navy nor any government agency. Blog and comment freely.") We met at a milblog conference - Mary knew (and I would come to realize) that milbloggers are the 21st-century version of exactly what the US Naval Institute is all about. Once that light bulb came on in my head, I mentioned a vague idea for a project to her - milblogs as the 21st century oral history that they are.
"Put that in writing," she said (of course - see first paragraph above!) - and here's part of the result.
Shortly after the first tent was pitched by the American military in Iraq a wire was connected to a computer therein, and the internet was available to a generation of Americans at war - many of whom had grown up online. From that point on, at any given moment, somewhere in Iraq a Soldier, Sailor, Airman or Marine was at a keyboard sharing the events of his or her day with the folks back home. While most would simply fire off an email, others took advantage of the (then) relatively new online blogging platforms to post their thoughts and experiences for the entire world to see. The milblog was born - and from that moment to this stories detailing everything from the most mundane aspects of camp life to intense combat action (often described within hours of the event) have been available on the web...
And et cetera - but since you're reading this on a milblog, you probably knew that. And you know that milblogs aren't just blogs written by troops at war, that many friends, family members, and supporters likewise documented their story of America at war online in near-real time, as those stories developed.
The diversity in membership of that group is broad, the one thing we all have in common is the impulse to make sense of the seemingly senseless, and communicate the tale - for each of us that impulse was strong enough to overcome whatever barriers prevent the vast majority of people from doing the same. Everyone at some point has some vague idea they believe should be shared - we were the people who, from some combination of internal and external urging, found and spent those many half hours persistently trying to write it down.
But where will all that be in another 137 years? Or five or ten, for that matter. That's something I've asked myself since at least 2004 - when I wrote this:
Membership in the ghost battalion has grown in the years since, and an ever growing majority of those abandoned-but-still-standing sites are vanishing. Have you checked out Lt Smash's site lately? How about Sgt Hook's? If you're a long-time milblog reader you know the first widely-read milblog from Operation Iraq Freedom and the first widely-read milblog from Afghanistan are both gone from the web. If you're a relative newcomer to this world you may never even have heard of them - or the dozens upon dozens of others who carried forth the standard they set down.
If you have a vague notion that something should be done about that, (a notion I've heard expressed more than once...) then you and I and the good folks at the US Naval Institute are in agreement. Preserving the history documented by the milbloggers is just one of the goals of the milblog project, the once-vague idea that we're now making real.
And it's a big idea, if I say so myself - too big to explain in one simple blog post, so stand by for more. Likewise, it's too big a task to be accomplished by just one person. So if you're a milblogger (and exactly what is a milblogger? is a topic for much further discussion on its own) I'm asking for your help. All I'll really need is just a little bit (maybe just one or two of those half hours...) of your time, and your willingness to tell the tale.
We've already made history, it's time to save it.
(More to follow...)
The Mudville Gazette is the on-line voice of an American warrior and his wife who stands by him. They prefer to see peaceful change render force of arms unnecessary. Until that day they stand fast with those who struggle for freedom, strike for reason, and pray for a better tomorrow.
Furthermore, I will occasionally use satire or parody herein. The bottom line: it's my house.
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Original content copyright © 2003 - 2011 by Greyhawk. Fair, not-for-profit use of said material by others is encouraged, as long as acknowledgement and credit is given, to include the url of the original source post. Other arrangements can be made as needed.
Contact: greyhawk at mudvillegazette dot com