Who me?

I am an American, fighting in the forces which guard my country and our way of life. I am prepared to give my life in their defense. I am not a terrorist, nor are my comrades.

Can I be sure? Like REALLY sure? Can you be sure the sun will rise tomorrow? REALLY sure? Be honest.

Today we received one of our “here’s how things will go” briefings on our immanent departure of Iraq. Two and a half hours of jokes and duplicate slides, all to say “drop your bags off at 0600 the day of travel…all else is subject to change.” All in all, a nice way to miss breakfast.

Every time you leave theater, be it for your rest and relaxation leave, or for redeployment back to the stats, they make you earn it.

From bag searches to customs officials to screenings to waiting in lines to stopping off in two or three different regions of the country, all of the paperwork processing and precautions make leaving the war one hell of a headache.

But that’s okay. Most of the time, troops are super psyched to be getting the hell out of here, so a few hours sweating outside of a processing center or in the belly of a bird, idling on the runway, ain’t no biggie.

What begins to chap my grass, however, is the amazing level of scrutiny our personal belongings are subjected to in order to leave–some of it warranted, but some of it just frustrating.

Do we need to make sure soldiers aren’t stealing any ammo, cultural treasures, other people’s stuff? Yes, definitely. Troops are thieving bastards, yes. Do it. Shake down. Dump everything out. We do it frequently.

But, do we need to ban iPods, laptops, CD players, toothpaste, deodorant, lotions, sunscreen and all the other recent airline taboos because of the “threat to airline travel”? You tell me.

How do you think it makes us, the uniformed service members of the United States, feel when we have to play all of these games? When we’re looked at as potential terrorists?

Every time I go through an airport in uniform and with orders and I’m selected for “special screening,” it just blows my mind. Take off my boots, my belt, empty out my pockets…Lord help me if I have a duffel bag.

And for all those out there with the “well…you never can be TOO careful” attitude–yes, you can be too careful, it’s called 1984. Remember that gem of a society?

How many attacks have occurred from uniformed service members?

It’s the same thing that got old over here where I had to show my ID card to eat, shop and enter half the buildings on post every day of the week. Why am I under so much suspicion? Are there clean-cut, uniformed, weapon-carrying, American-accented, pale-skinned, terrorists roaming through our camps?

Is there a test or a form I can mail in to certify myself? How many years do I need to spend in the desert before I’m certified “Soldier, defender of freedom”? Is there a fee that I overlooked?

Because if for all the years I am to spend in the crucible of war, if I can’t win any modicum of trust from the government or people to which I have pledged my life, then I fail to see the point in the War on Terror.

Or maybe, like the never ending war in 1984, we aren’t supposed to win. Maybe the war is meant to perpetuate itself forever. That way, we have profitable contracts and political levers to use against our enemies.

All this high-minded crap aside, can’t I just keep my toothpaste and my iPod? Twenty-plus hours of flying to get home from fighting in your war is a long time without music or funk-fighting lotions and gels. Damn AXE and their sweet-smelling toiletries!


About salemonz

Born in San Diego, Calif. Raised as a Navy Brat, I jumped ship and crossed over to the Army. Served as an enlisted journalist for a bunch of years, then helped the DoD figure out what the hell to do with social media. After the Army, now I drift down the river of life, trying not to be a jerk.

4 responses to “Who me?”

  1. FTM29 says :

    You got it pal. An American in uniform is so easy to target so that the general public won’t say that there is “profiling”. Screw that. You should get a hall pass and be allowed to carry anything short of .50 Ma Deuce while on the plane. I know I would feel better.

    BTW – email me.

  2. BWJones says :

    The absolute riot was hearing my friend from small arms training when he was deployed to Iraq the first time around have to pass his rifle on the other side of the magnetometer only to receive it on the other side on the way to the plane.

    The requirement was to go through the metal detector….. He had to have his rifle when he landed in country…… Go figure….

  3. Felyne says :

    awww honey. Welcome to the wonderful world of commercial travel.

    It does make me laugh though, and the terrorists must be pissing themselves too, because 9/11 has been and gone years ago, but its still taking you 45 minutes to clear security at the airport, millions every day continue to get delayed. Was their plot really to destroy two towers or to just fuck over every traveller for the rest of time? (not to mention the fantastic levels of paranoia they’ve achieved).

    Its heartbreaking but now you’re just like everyone else, only… more of a threat because you’re in uniform and can probably kill all of us with your bare hands… OMG I’m surprised they didnt insist you were handcuffed.

  4. Radio Free Babylon says :

    What a shame.

    But here’s maybe what they’re thinking when they select you for special screening:

    “There he is – the journalist from Oregon, blogging negativity to the folks back home and sowing discord among the brethren. Let’s jack with him.”

    ‘Course not – but they know that even among soldiers this war has grown unpopular – and “you can’t be too careful.”

    Even still, the toothpaste/ipod ban should be lifted for soldiers flying in and out of theatre.

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