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Scott Ott emailed me and asked me to pass this around to reach those that would benefit the most.
Faithful ScrappleFace readers know that editor Scott Ott is also director of a Christian children’s camp called Victory Valley Camp, in Zionsville, Pennsylvania.
As an expression of gratitude for the sacrifice of our troops deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan, Victory Valley Camp is offering a free week of day camp (ages 5-to-11) or overnight camp (ages 8-to-13) for their children during summer 2007.
This offer applies to families of troops deployed to either of these theaters of operations during the 2007 calendar year. A week of Valley Day Camp normally costs $135. A week of overnight Camp or Outpost costs $335. For these families, we will charge nothing.
We’re doing this as an act of honor and love for these families who have given so much of themselves that the rest of us might live in a nation where we’re free to worship the Lord.
We appreciate that a week of camp for these children will not only provide a joyful time of God’s word in God’s creation, but it also offers a much-needed week of respite for the stateside spouse.
For more information, click the flag of the United States of America at VictoryValleyCamp.org
May the Lord bless the families and the troops who hold freedom more dear than life. We count it all joy, and a privilege to serve you.
Victory Valley Camp has no fund set aside for this effort. We’re doing it because it seems like the right thing to do. People who wish to help, may contribute online or by mail. To learn more, click here. But whether folks give or not, the offer stands.
If you know someone who would enjoy some fun in the sun share this story
Okay, how long have I been gone? These days I glance at my watch as often to see what weekday it is, or what day of the month as I do for the actual time.
There are two ways to roll into Iraq. The first is the most common from the past few years - you arrive, and work side by side with the person you're relieving for a few days, learn the system and all things that matter, and then he leaves and you've got it. This process is called RIP/TOA - Relieve in Place/Transfer of Authority.
But the surge is something new. There is no one to relieve; you build something from nothing, you determine how you're going to do business. You figure out where everything is and how to get anything done. You try to create your part of the system to be as simple as possible, and wonder - as everyone else does - why the hell everyone else but you is determined to make it as hard as possible to get anything done.
Within the first two or three days you realize that "we'll get that to you in two or three days" is a bullshit answer to any request you might be foolish enough too make, and is the same answer you'll get four days later. You learn that "The only guy who can authorize that is out doing _____" is code for "you're never going to get that done unless you do it yourself, even though you aren't authorized". And you do it yourself. And though you'll hear stories about "last time" you'll find no tangible evidence that this unit has ever been away from home before.
But somehow, when it comes time to write a weekly progress report, you'll find that last week's problems have somehow been solved (or rendered moot), and even though you've got a longer list of shortfalls this Friday you actually are making progress. And by week three you'll actually know how to make things work, even though you may wonder if it's because the system is becoming sane or because you are simply becoming one with an insane system.
And then it's week four, and chaos is routine, but deadlines have been met. And things are working, even though you had to stop everything for two days and learn a new system for inventorying all the shit you inventoried before shipping it over - and then inventory it again using the new system here.
And then inventory it again for someone else.
And not only are things working, but backup systems are working too - those had to be ops checked even earlier than you'd planned. And backups to backups are good to go too.
Her: When will you have time to write something?
Him: Two to three days - things should start to slow down...
Near the end of a 16-hour day. A PLAN has been made - the work of many. The work of many, working many hours. Then one guy makes A BAD DECISION without checking first with any of the many. The plan is about to unhinge, and with a simple glance at his output, I can see the future, and the future is bad. But it can be fixed. He awaits my praise for his efforts.
He knew better, he knew the system, or if he didn't it is long past time where he should have. This is not training, this is not practice, this is not home. Ninety percent of his damage is undone within hours, I'm there to make sure of it. No blood, no foul - this time. He gets one more chance.
Back to the tent, alarm set for 10:30, figured 6 hours sleep would be good enough. I set my own hours here - just work when I need to. But someone else had another plan, and a series of loud explosions woke me up about 8 AM. Not close enough to make me worry, but close enough to wake me up. Still don't know exactly what they were. Might have been our guys blowing up captured stuff - too many booms for it to be bad guys (I hope). So I showered (the day before the showers weren't working), shaved, brushed my teeth and came into work. It was too late for chow hall breakfast - if the bastards had struck an hour earlier I could at least have had food.
But what I did have was a rare brief period with nothing to do. So out of curiosity I checked something of which for the past weeks my time constraints have left me blissfully unaware - what sort of news America was getting from Iraq?
The answer? None.
Which was a pretty effective way to ensure no one in America would learn that a few days after that, we officially finished the "surge" part of the surge - and moved on to implementing strategy.
Top US congressional Democrats bluntly told President George W. Bush Wednesday that his Iraq troop "surge" policy was a failure. Senate Majority leader Harry Reid and House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi challenged the president over Iraq by sending him a letter, ahead of a White House meeting later on Wednesday.
"As many had forseen, the escalation has failed to produce the intended results," the two leaders wrote.
"The increase in US forces has had little impact in curbing the violence or fostering political reconciliation.
The American commander in Iraq says his forces have launched new offensives against al-Qaida insurgents in and around Baghdad during the last 24 hours, making use of the last of the additional combat forces President Bush ordered to Iraq in January. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Baghdad.
General David Petraeus announced the offensives at a news conference on Saturday.
"Literally in the last 24 hours, we have launched a number of different offensive operations in the Baghdad belts in particular," he said, "and we're continuing a number of operations that have been ongoing in Baghdad itself."
General Petraeus says the operations are targeting areas that have been al-Qaida safe havens, and bases for launching car bomb attacks. "A fairly large, coordinated offensive operation, with all of these surge forces, has only just now been launched," he said.
The general said he is taking advantage of the fact that the last of the extra U.S. forces have finally arrived, bringing new capabilities he can use to go after insurgents on their home ground. He would not provide any details of the operations.
Unfuck yourself, Harry.
Wander into a local higher HQ building near here (and I suspect this is true of more than one) and one of the first things you'll see is a memorial to the fallen, backdropped by a continuously scrolling slideshow with photos and information on Division's latest casualties of war. The faces represent a cross section of America, many are heartbreakingly young, and many of those who aren't leave young children behind. Each day new fathers without sons, and sons without fathers. Look hard enough at the screens and you'll see your own face looking back.
I'll pause on the occassions I visit higher, and I'm rarely alone in doing so. And I'll remain in that spot until I've seen every face, and felt the tearing of my heart from my chest. In the workaday bustle of that place, simultaneously in the midst and far removed from the grimmer aspects of this conflict, it would be easy to forget the far different reality that exists not far geographically away. But there the very familiar faces of the fallen bid greeting and farewell to those who would make decisions that will ultimately result in others joining their ranks.
One needn't wonder what they might say, given the chance. Their actions spoke louder and more powerfully than words ever could.
Some distant sunset, vision fading
And tired eyes gaze 'pon folded flags
While distant drums beat their refrain
Saluting fallen friends whose names
And youth will never fade
Here's to those on other shores,
for them live well, the price is paid
-- Iraq, December 2004
Here's exceprts from his book:
p. 203. …Was I afraid of their possible buddies in the Taliban? No. Was I afraid of the liberal media back in the U.S.A.? Yes. And I suddenly flashed on the prospect of many, many years in a U.S. civilian jail alongside murderers and rapists.
p. 206. I looked Mikey right in the eye, and I said, “We gotta let ‘em go.”
It was the stupidest, most southern-fried, lame brained decision I ever made in my life. I must have been out of my mind. I had actually cast a vote which I knew could sign our death warrant. I’d turned into a fucking liberal, a half-assed, no-logic nitwit, all heart, no brain, and the judgment of a jackrabbit.
... and the Democratic underground are having a hay day
But to stay on point,
Some of what Marcus and Matt discuss are the ROE (Rules of Engagement).
Can't tell you how many stories I've read in the blogosphere or heard while visiting guys at Kleber about the Fk'd up ROE and how their buddies aren't hear to talk about it.
Now ROE have been around since the Revolutionary War and are necessary but isn't it about time they change these current restrictive rules and let our guys do their damn job?
I'm just saying. T.A.R.F.U.
Col Hunt has some thoughts here
Hunt says while visiting Iraq recently, he observed rules of engagement that required seven separate steps before a soldier at a guard post could engage the enemy. The last step, he notes, states that if the enemy runs away, the soldier does not have to go after him. <...> [The existing rules of engagement] have hamstrung our soldiers to the point where you've got the British, who had to ask permission to fire on Iranians who are taking captive their soldiers, and were told no. ...
The Marines have got this problem in Al Anbar Province ... and the Army's got this problem all over the place, from Afghanistan to here. ... We have forgotten how to fight. This is nasty business we're in, and we seem unwilling or unable to do that.
Col. Hunt also has a good read : On the Hunt: How to Wake Up Washington and Win the War on Terror
Hopefully someone in Washington reads it.
A citizen journalist and a former National Guard soldier himself, Scott arrived in Afghanistan in May 2006 to begin a 14-month journey as an embedded journalist with Alpha Company, 2nd Platton, the Red Devils. His film examines the pitfalls and perils of a mostly forgotten war told through the experience of daily living with soldiers.
The work was recently awarded a regional Emmy Award for best photography.
More video here. The final cut is expecedt in October 2007.
Looking forward to it.