February 8, 2011

As I recently noted in a post last week, war documentaries like "Restrepo" and "Hell and Back Again" have created some serious buzz at the Sundance Film Festival and at the Academy Awards.  The Military Times has provided some good coverage highlighting all the attention war documentaries have been getting.

I've also posted about this before, but if you haven' seen the trailer of Shepherds of Helmand, it's receiving a lot of press lately.

Here's a little bit about the film, which had a recent screening at the Hollywood Theater on February 3rd.

In 2008, a group of 17 volunteers from the Oregon National Guard deployed to Afghanistan to train a battalion of the Afghan National army. Their mission was to conduct counter narcotics patrols in the deadly Helmand Province, a region notorious not only for its opium production but as a Taliban stronghold. This is the story of one of the most decorated units in Oregon National Guard history.

More details and links here >>>

January 19, 2010

   "Here`s a wonderful story out of Yahoo! News about elementary school readers voting the U.S. Armed Forces as 2010 Person of the Year in a recent poll for Time for Kids. 
 The article starts off by saying: Good news: your kids aren`t as dumbed down by teen idols and electronic gadgets as you may have previously thought.n a recent poll for Time for Kids, elementary school aged children voted the United States Armed Forces as the 2010 TFK Person of the Year.  The U.S. Armed Forces Person of The Year title represents the
more than 1.4 million men and women who are on active duty in the United States Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard- so just about everyone knows someone who gets a piece of the title, which honors the most influential newsmaker of the year."
More details and links here >>>

January 15, 2010

  Theres a lot going on in the military and social media world.  Heres a rundown of the headlines in the last 24 hours, with the big news over at Wired about changes to the militarys social-media policy expected this March.

Tweet Away, Troops: Pentagon Wont Ban Social Media
Using Facebook to stay connected to your friends and family while stationed in the middle of nowhere in Afghanistan? Whatever changes are underway for the Pentagons use of social media, theyre not going to stop you from updating your Wall...

DOD social media rules to expire soon
The Defense Department last year defined military use of social media with a set of guidelines that are set to expire on March 1. With no formal announcement of a follow-on policy, and a history of debate over DOD social media use, some are wondering if the expiration could curb access to popular websites...
Judge denies release request for sergeant accused of threatening Knox chancellor on Web
A federal judge has shot down a bid by a U.S. Army sergeant, accused of threatening via a YouTube video to kill a Knox County chancellor, to go free for a few hours so he can help his defense team examine his Facebook account...
Desert Storm changed Kuwait, military and journalism
Twenty years later, there are quiet Gulf War reunions across the country and Facebook is the new gathering place for veterans of a war that ended before the Int ernet began. Some 700,000 active and reserve troops served in the Gulf, and I remember their bravery, kindness and nobility...
More details and links here >>>

Afghan&Military Blog


20 years later

Posted: 18 Jan 2011 03:19 PM PST

"Holy crap I am getting old. I mean what happened to the last 20 years?

Yesterday was the 20 year anniversary of the start of Desert Storm. That was my first wartime experience and even though a lot of the small details have faded, I still remember that day, January 17th, 1991. I can’t believe it has been that long since I was living in the first suck of our modern era out in the Saudi desert. A place where we fought scorpions between platoons for fun, where playing spades and reading the same letters from home over and over again were the only things to do in order to pass the time. By the time Jan 17th came along I had read every book I had and even read some of my friend’s books that I didn’t like but there was nothing else to do.

I can’t believe it has been 20 years since we were wearing our chocolate chips (desert uniform at the time), nomex flight suits and even BDUs in the desert. Actually a lot had happened prior to the transition from Desert Shield to Desert Storm. I had already been in the desert for five months. I had the chance to meet the “man” of the time, GEN Schwarzkopf, and I along with my platoon had already been scared shitless that we were going to get over-run. There was a false alarm long before the air war started which made us think the Iraqis were about to charge across the border at us to take advantage of all of our forces not being in place by that time.

The start of Desert Storm also marked the start of the longest time I ever went in not taking a shower. We started maneuvering to new places in the desert right before the air bombing missions began. When we started moving we left our portable, locally-built, showers behind. I would not see another shower until the end of March with the cease-fire was put into place. I did take what we called “whore-baths” with a little bucket and always cold water. There was no shame, or pride. You did what you had to in front of God and your platoon. We had no choice.

I still tell people today when they complain about not having a bath or shower for a couple of days about what real suffering is all about. See besides just being stinky from everyday body odor and sweating in the desert, we also “lived” most of that time in our MOPP suits. A MOPP suit was our outerwear that protected us against nuclear, biological and chemical (NBC) warfare. You may have seen soldiers wearing them at the start of the push into Iraq in 2003. Those were what the army calls JLIST, similar to the MOPP suit, but not as thick. The MOPP suit was this thick and hot top and bottom that were lined with black charcoal powder. It was full of it so when you wore it all day and sweated in it, well as you could imagine we were pretty nasty.

Oh those were the days, days that I can reflect on now but am very glad I don’t have to re-live anymore. I remember during those days of the air war that every time a SCUD missle came overhead we would put on all of our protective NBC gear, to include the protective face mask (AKA gas-mask) and would wear it for hours. We would sleep in it, work in it, etc. etc. for hours on end. I remember going to sleep at night on the floor of my track with my mask on and then being woken up to be told it was “all-clear” and we were allowed to take it off. Fresh air tastes better than steak and feel better than sex when you have been in a pro-mask for 5+ hours. I also remember being asleep and then being woken up by my driver and being told we had to “mask up”, and how friggen pissed I would be.

Another thing we did 20 years ago yesterday was take PB tablets. You can read a little about these things here, We have a saying in the Army, that says “We train like we fight”. So in all those years of training, how come we never “trained” or talked about PB tablets? You could understand our surprise when on Jan 17th, 1991 when our platoon leadership lined us up in the middle of the platoon assembly area as we stood there in full MOPP gear with our masks on and they handed out these packets of tablets. We were all dropping WTF are these? We were told to take them, so we did.

They also told us that these tablets contained a small amount of nerve agent in order to build up a tolerance, so we would all suffer different symptoms for the first couple of days taking them. I will never forget the following couple of days and having the worst headaches I have ever had. Everyone in the platoon had varying symptoms, but mine were the headaches. I was close to wanting to cut my own head off in order to make it stop.

Yep those are some of the memories I have of those times 20 years ago today….Damn I am getting old."

Me in the back of my M577 Command Post Track, somewhere in the Saudi desert.