Monday, May 25, 2009

Memorial Day

"The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave to every living heart. . .should swell into a mighty chorus of remembrance, gratitude and rededication on this solemn occasion."
-- Abraham Lincoln

On Memorial Day we remember those who gave all so that we could enjoy the fruits of freedom in this Great Country. It is good that we give pause and remember, because it ensures that those heroes who gave all are not forgotten. Julie Gunlock has some Memorial Day suggestions for how to remember this day at National Review Online.

One of the activities I most enjoyed in my trips to Washington, D.C. was traveling to Arlington National Cemetary. There is something powerful about seeing the row on row of white tombstones on that hallowed group that loudly declare that while Freedom is Not Free, there are many who have answered that call to serve something greater than themselves.


Monday, May 11, 2009


I will be going on Mid-Tour R&R this week. Needless to say I am quite excited to finally be going on my Jazzah. Jazzah is the Iraqi term for leave. I'm not sure what it exactly translates as, but it's one of the Iraqi Words for vacation. Now, the Iraqi Army and other Security Forces have a quite liberal Jazzah Policy. It seriously seems like they get a day off for every day or two they work. It's a shame our Jazzah policy isn't the same, LOL. Then again, if it was, we wouldn't be able to accomplish anything, which might explain some of the problems the Iraqi Security Forces tend to have.

I've recently come across an excellent site for getting information on the Iraq War and the War in Afghanistan. It provides more historical context and has some great references to see the progress in the conflict in Iraq.

The Institute for the Study of War (That definitely sounds like a dream job: What's your Job? Oh, I Study War) in partnership with the Weekly Standard offers an incredibly broad comprehensive reference for individual operations, politics, and maps to track the various battlefields in the War on Terror. Here's the link and I heartily encourage everyone to check it out and play around the site. I have spent quite a bit of time on it putting together an Offier Professional Development on the History of Diyala. I can't email the product out, because its 13MBs. I wish I had known about the site prior to the deployment because it would have been an incredible resource in educating myself about past-CF operations in the area. The next link is specifically for Diyala Province.

It is an example of some of the heavyweight scholars who are doing some serious scholarship and research on the War in Iraq and Afghanistan. I would recommend adding this to one's reading of the Global War on Terror (joining the Long War Journal, Michael Yon, and the Iraq Report).

Friday, May 1, 2009

Guarding the Pass

It hasn't been in the news lately (for various reasons), but the Military is doing phenomenally well in terms of retention. My battalion is only a few soldiers away from completing its mission for retention for the entire fiscal year, and April isn't even over yet. So far my Brigade has had over one thousand soldiers re-enlist. In a Brigade of around 4500 soldiers, that is a phenomenally successful retention rate.

The 172 SBCT retained 1200 soldiers last deployment (in and of itself, a significant number), a number my current brigade will likely pass. While less than 1% of the United States population serves in the US Armed Forces (at any one time) and at most 10-15% have served, that population is certainly incredibly dedicated. I am personally impressed by the strength that enables some individuals to serve their third or fourth deployment in the GWOT, while I'm tuckered out at 2. The re-enlistment in the military has been going strong since 2001, even if recruitment did not always follow suit.

Recruitment is picking up as well and the military is tightening up restrictions to slow the numbers entering the military. I am definitely impressed by the numbers who are willing to re-sign to do this again, because even as Iraq winds down, Afghanistan will spin up and they will be back in the field again.

Military Service is essential to the survival of any nation. Our Republic is built on the sacrifice of those who have gone before and worn the uniform. Our nation's proud tradition of Citizen Soldiering is part of the very fabric of our past.

It is certainly a blessing that this country has so many young men and women who are willing to stand up and serve their country. It would be nice if there were still more.