Project VALOUR-IT Update:

Today was the worst day of CRC, so I haven't had much time.

I do want to do my part, though.


I Hate the AP:

Today's headline: "US military to abandon Iraqi cities."


OK, let's review the Surge strategy:

1) Address raging violence in Iraq by getting off the FOBs, and out into combat outposts where you can secure the population.

2) Engage the population in providing its own security through militia ("Sons of Iraq") checkpoints and other solutions that the US will pay for.

3) Train formal, Iraqi government-run police and soldiers as the long-term solution to Iraq's stability.

4) Get Iraq to take over paying the militia forces, so that the GoI is in full control of its internal security.

5) Pull back onto the FOBs into overwatch to give the GoI a little buffer to ensure that it is able to maintain security without an active Coalition presence.

6) Go home, leaving behind a free and secure Iraq.

So really, the proper headline is "US military one step closer to triumphant homecoming." Or, "Surge strategy advances toward victory."


Project VALOUR-IT:

You've probably noticed that the annual Project VALOUR-IT fundraiser is on. Doc Russia tapped us for the Marine Corps team. If you want to donate, and mark it USMC, we'd appreciate it.

Why should you? Read this, by the autor of Joe's favorite online comic, "Schlock Mercenary."

When I consider the sacrifices of the men and women who serve or have served in the United States Armed Forces I question my worthiness. It is to them I speak right now.

You fought for me long before I was born. You fight today, that I might not have to. You disciplined yourselves, obeyed orders, and faced your worst fears that I might be an undisciplined, disobedient coward.

I hide in my basement and write comic strips. You walk down the middle of the street in clothing that screams “target.” I pay for my mistakes by getting occasional hate-mail. You pay for everybody’s mistakes with your blood. In a world where it is increasingly unpopular to be an American you wear a flag on your shoulder when you go abroad, while I lounge comfortably behind the borders you and your brothers across the generations have secured.

I am humbled to find servicemen and women reading and enjoying Schlock Mercenary. Sometimes I am asked whether I have ever served in the military. I never have. I considered it briefly, but I was afraid. You, however, were not afraid. Or if you were, you were also wise enough to know that fear is a thing to be faced, and it is the one thing that MUST be faced before you can face anything else.

It has taken me twenty years to learn that lesson. You bought those twenty years for me, affording me the opportunity to learn about courage while comfortable.

When I consider your many sacrifices I find myself unworthy of them. But I accept them with gratitude, and applaud you with a sense of awe. Thank you for doing what I cannot.

You amaze me.
Project VALOUR-IT is for the ones that have paid some of the highest prices. The only ones who have paid more are beyond earthly help.

Vet's Day

Veteran's Day:

Happy Veteran's Day, everyone. Today is Range Day for me: M9, M4, and Glock 19. We went through the PMI ("Primary Marksmanship Instruction") classes yesterday, which was a source of great amusement to everyone. There's only like two people here who weren't former military, and so the class (like almost everything in the week of CRC pre-deployment) is pro forma. Especially for the USSF guys. ("Oh, really? This thing is called a 'magazine release'? What does that do?")

Looks like Baghdad is heating up for us. I'd guess there's a two-part mindest at work in the new insurgent push. They probably believe the election shows that the mood of the country is ready for the war to end, and a push now will force a lame-duck President to back down. They'll be disappointed. What happens after January I can't say, but I'm sure we're not going anywhere until then.

The other party they'd like to motivate is the Shi'ite factions in the government of Iraq. If a US response to the new bombing aggravates local Shi'ites, or if it moves too slowly and is not able to stop the bombings, it could turn sentiment against approving the Status of Forces Agreement; that would mean an end to US combat operations on 1 January.

The US military has to move with the right balance to address the problem without creating new hostility. That's hard work, but it's been the work of the last two years. It'll be done right.

That might stand as a good reason to remember and celebrate Veteran's Day: that this is what the military does. This is why we honor veterans, if anyone has forgotten.