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December 22, 2009
Knocked UpBy Greyhawk
Oh noes: U.S. personnel in Iraq could face court-martial for getting pregnant. Stars and Stripes ran the story first. MSNBC and the AP followed.
Which means those whose understanding of the military comes from reading newspapers and watching television (dramas and news) are expressing their feelings that it just isn't fair because women in the military are constantly being raped and can't get free abortions.
And they're grappling with reality, as only the reality-based community is intelligent enough to do: "...the reality is that only women show the physical evidence of what's being criminalized. So, if I'm a woman who's become pregnant via consensual sex, the only way the Army is going to know which man to punish is if I tell them."
Which - while there are a number of potential problems with this rule - is exactly what I didn't think when I first heard the story.
But in the meantime, Stars and Stripes has actually followed up on the original story:
"Seven U.S. soldiers, including three men, have already been punished under six-week-old rules making pregnancy a violation of military law in northern Iraq.
And what sort of draconian punishments are being imposed? Stripes quotes Major General Cucolo as stating they were given letters of reprimand that will not remain a part of the permanent military file.
Which means that as far as degree, it's a somewhat less serious infraction than blogging about the uniform policy at your kids' school.
With one exception (so far):
The third male soldier, a noncommissioned officer who is married and impregnated a subordinate who is not his wife, was also charged with fraternization and given a permanent letter of reprimand, Cucolo said.
Which is also getting off easy, sez I, in that impersonating a President of the United States is a crime, too.
As for me, certainly I can't be the only hopeless romantic, wondering "but what of those cases of true love, the unconquered drive of the human heart, the eternal flame that once lit glows so brightly - even in extreme conditions and time of war?" If only I had a dollar for each case I'd seen of that through my many years of service...
And certainly, especially at this time of year, one must consider the possibility of immaculate conception, too.
Enough reading. Let's watch movies!
Posted by Greyhawk / December 22, 2009 10:12 AM | Permalink
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...)
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