Doom and gloom
Recently, several Stryker units had their tours in Iraq extended.
I had heard about it during my daily news scans and didn’t think much about it. Several select jobs were taxed beyond numerical limits in light of recent operations. The extra bodies had to come from somewhere.
My folks first brought it up during a call a few days back, “Any chance on you guys being extended?” my Dad asked. I told him I hadn’t heard anything, so nothing so far.
There was always a chance of having a tour extended, but I guess I just hadn’t thought of our little detachment of command staff as overly essential.
Sure what the unit as a whole did was important, but the brass that we toted along was being swapped out–keeping us in theater wouldn’t add anything to the overall mission. All we’d be able to do is go to meetings–well, and send me out to take pictures of convoys, but I’m already staying another year, remember?
So I put is aside. But, the next day and now every day after, someone will come running through the office every couple of hours or so with a wild look about their eyes.
“You hear we might be extended?!” they manage to get out, blasting me with a glare that would send lesser men into a terrified frenzy.
There are two responses I give. The first, “No, we’re not being extended. What would they do, send you out on convoys? Do you even know where your armor is?”
With that, the rabid rumor-monger usually subsides.
The second response, “Yeah? You think?” stokes the flames and pushes the hapless victim of hearsay to the brink, forcing him to imagine the myriad horrors of war, realized with the notion of a cold blade at the nape of his neck, cameras rolling, and an Arabic banner hanging in the backdrop.
For pity’s sake, I usually stick with the first.
It’s normal for units to be seized by rumors of more war, especially with those playing hooky from the fighting. Every day on the FOB is like sleeping in on a farm while the other siblings go out for morning chores. You think that any day now, Dad will come storming in, overalls and tools in hand, and shake us from the covers into the morning.
And I’ve seen these poor bastards that were extended. They’re already moving into their new spaces down on Victory Base Complex. A good lot of them were home in Alaska when they got the call to head back to Iraq. Seems the Iraqis needed help securing the capital, and we needed bigger, scarier vehicles on the roads for a show of force. Can you imagine? After a year of training and a year of missions, to finally make it home, kiss the wife, kiss the kids, go out for a long weekend, and hear the answering machine with the orders to repack and head back? Wow.
After the “what if” conversations, most guys typically say the same thing, “I’m only (X) months from (retiring/getting out) you can have this crap.”
“This crap” referring to the foreseeable future involving constant operations in Iraq and anywhere else in the Middle East you can throw a dart at. Most guys I know (including me, actually) are looking forward to doing their time and saying “thanks for the memories.”
But with juniors and seniors all itching to get out, and the majority sentiment of “let someone else fight,” who will be left?
Honestly…who will go to all these new wars? Lebanon, Djibouti, Iran, Sudan, Korea…there’s a lot brewing in the pot. Terror is everywhere!
Post 9/11 we needed a war to vent our frustration. We chose Afghanistan and, when that wasn’t enough, we rolled into Iraq. Now we’re like the guy who super sized his meal and can barely choke down the fries.
Who’s going to fight? Me? I’ll have put two tours of war under my belt if I make it through, God willing. How many more years out of my 20s do you want me to give away to the desert? I mean I’ll do it, but do I get a chance at dating, clubs, and all that crap?
Will you enlist? Think you “got” it? How about your kids, then? Suit them up to go “spread democracy”?
I guess I’m just honestly worried about how the “all volunteer force” model is going to hold up when war isn’t fun any more and actually requires commitment, patriotism, and minimal bullsh**, instead of the wishy-washy, “I’m just here for the college money”, bureaucratic monster we have today.
So what say you? Think we can take on all these bad guys? We sure as sh** can’t just “pull back” like a lot of cats are saying. You don’t stab somebody and just yank out the knife.
Think we can keep it going? How long? Ten years? Twenty? We’re already trillions in debt, what’s a few more, eh?
What keeps me awake at night is the revulsion of many toward serving a country that, yes, was just showing off, but now may honestly need them. “F*** this, I’m out!” is something I hear way too much.
When everyone runs back home to Fort Living Room, kicks their feet up and lets someone else worry about the problem, who’s left to keep America from turning into Iraq?