Wednesday, July 25, 2007
Tuesday, July 24, 2007
Idiocy of the Day
"New reports today indicate a possible link between al-Qaida in Iraq and Osama bin Laden."
Oh, you mean BESIDES the name?
Here's a news story on the subject...it included this gem:
Bush cited intelligence that:This is supposed to be news? That Zarqawi founded al-Qaida in Iraq and that he's been allied with bin Laden? Either the President is rehashing old information or the American people are even more ignorant and stupider than I thought.
_Al-Qaida in Iraq was founded not by an Iraqi but by Jordanian-born Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, who had deep relations with al-Qaida leaders. The president said Zarqawi, who was killed by U.S. forces last year, set up operations with terrorist associates in Iraq long before U.S.-led forces arrived, and that in the violence and instability following's fall, was able to expand the "size, scope and lethality" of his operation. Zarqawi formally joined al-Qaida in 2004 and pledged allegiance to bin Laden, he said.
_The merger gave al-Qaida senior leadership "a foothold in Iraq to extend its geographic presence and to plot external operations and to tout the centrality of the jihad in Iraq to solicit direct monetary support elsewhere."
"Indecision is the key to flexibility."
Monday, July 23, 2007
FT Stuff, part III
So it should come as no surprise that one of the things that most of the males at FT start missing by around TD-14 or so is attractive women. For starters, the ratio of men to women period in the military isn't particularly favorable. Next, nothing against women in the military, but a lot of them aren't the most attractive. Third, since it's Field Training everyone is in a uniform 24/7, so even those few females that were relatively attractive didn't necessarily appear so due to the whole uniform effect. Finally, all of this is irrelevant because at FT you have about 30 seconds to start day dreaming before a CTA or FTO comes along and starts yelling at you.
Bottom line, something that many of us appreciated at the airport while waiting for our flights was the chance to blatantly stare at attractive women in civilian attire. There was one particular incident and female that stands out...
As you may or may not know, Atlanta is home to the busiest airport in the world. It's also Delta's main hub. We were all flying home on Delta. Somewhere in the U.S. on the day we were flying home there was weather, which meant that all of Delta's flights in and out of Atlanta were instantly bumped back by about four hours. What this meant for us was another four hours to sit around and shoot the shit. I was doing that with some guys from my Det. whose flight left from the same concourse as mine. We were talking when all of us noticed an extremely attractive and scantily dressed female walking towards us. Tall, skinny, and leggy. Long blonde hair. Curves. High heels. Hot pants. Skimpy tight fitting top. Basically looked like she walked off the set of a rap video. Looked something like this:
Or this:As soon as we noticed said female, the conversation immediately stopped mid-sentence. All heads turned and began tracking, doing our best to show that all men are no better than Pavlov's dogs.
"...God bless America."
It was nice being back in the civilian world.
FT Stuff, part II
My flight lost two cadets on TD-28 (the last day of training.) They got kicked out for misconduct. They misconduct was getting into an altercation the day before. It took the rest of that day and most of TD-28 for the investigation to occur, the decision to be made, and for them to out process. When we were standing in formation on the reveille/retreat pad having our last retreat ceremony, we could see one off in the distance in civvies toting his suitcases, leaving the encampment.
It goes without saying that the whole incident put a damper over the celebration that occurs on TD-28. However, I apparently played (and am still going to play) a pretty pivotal role in the whole incident. I didn't find this out until later, after I had left the encampment. Talk about a buzzkill.
I had several paragraphs written here going into a little more detail about the incident and what was happening now, but I'm going to hold off on publishing that for now since while the investigation itself has closed, there is an on-going appeal. And the last thing I want is for something I've written here to somehow affect the process. God knows I've already affected this thing enough.
Just so it's clear what's going on, I was a witness to the incident and gave a statement. My statement apparently played an important part in the decision to send one of the cadets home. From what that cadet has told me went on in his discussion with the brass, there was a communication foul up somewhere in the line and the impression the brass had of the incident based in part on my statement was not what I was trying to convey.
The whole reason I'm writing this tonight is that tomorrow I have to sit down and write a memo for an appeal packet that cadet is putting together to try and get reinstated. So this is obviously on my mind now, as it was earlier today when I was driving back home from visiting a few friends in Ames (lots of time to think on that road.)
Where my thoughts eventually took me was that this incident was a wake up call for me. Officers have to make decisions and take actions every day that are going to affect people's lives. This is something I knew. However, it is one thing to understand this in the abstract as a distant possibility. It is quite another to actually make a sworn statement and then find out later that you have had a direct effect, literally, in someone's entire future. The worst thing about this whole situation is that it falls in a grey area. If I had observed this cadet committing some sort of gross misconduct, there would not be this struggle going on. It would be black and white; he gets sent home. Period. But this incident fell, as it so often does, in those grey areas between right and wrong, between what the rules stipulate. And coming up tomorrow I have to make another one of those statements and decisions that will affect someone else's entire future.
It should go without saying, but I'm going to say it anyway: there is no struggle going on within me as to what the "truth" is. I know the truth of the incident as I saw it; it's what I wrote down in my first statement and it's what I'll be putting in my memo tomorrow. However, the dilemma I am facing is how to make the officer who will be making this decision understand what exactly happened. Obviously, there was some sort of disconnect the first time around because what I wanted to convey was not the conclusion that was drawn.
And the cloud hanging over this whole thing is that I literally hold a significant chunk of this cadet's future in my memo. It's an awesome responsibility, one I did not think I was going to have to be shouldering for at least another few years.
Being an Officer. It's not all fun and games.
Saturday, July 21, 2007
FT Stuff, part I
So it's TD-23 or so and it's near the end of training so we're starting to get a little crazy. One of my roommates was lying down on the floor in our room taking a little break (a big no-no) but not a big deal since our door was shut because someone was "changing." (You're only allowed to have your door shut if someone in the room was changing, but doors were closed so often people must've changed clothes 6 times a day.) Anyway, I mention to him that I'll give him $50 to do that out in the hallway. It was one of my standard comments whenever someone was doing something in the room that was forbidden. He chuckles a bit, but then one of my other roommates looks at me with this dead serious look on his face and tells me that he'll take that bet. I'm like, "Are you friggin' serious?!?" His response is, "How much money you wanna put on it and how long am I out there?"
So we agree that the bet is he lies down out in the middle of the no-fly zone, which is a taped off area in the middle of the hallway that only staff are allowed in, for 20 seconds and that I'll pay him $20. He gets out in the hallway and lies down, I start my watch. 20 seconds later he gets up and runs back inside. We then proceed to roll on the floor laughing for several minutes. We ended up settling the bet with me just giving him the watch I had let him borrow for most of FT.
Friday, July 20, 2007
Maxwell II, Best in Blue!
Over the next couple of weeks (or more) I'll occasionally be posting funny/memorable stories or moments from Field Training. I think I'll start with quite possibly the funniest single line I remember from FT. However, it does require a bit of setting up. You may or may not be familiar with the phrase "speed of excellence." It is a favorite of the trainers at FT. I believe the speed of excellence to be near unattainable; I've actually heard that it is faster than the speed of light. However, you can rest assured that if you are not moving fast enough someone will be sure to inform you that you need to move at the speed of excellence. Now, there was the little camping trip we took during FT called FLX. FLX was when we simulated being in a deployed environment. On the last night of FLX, things were pretty informal because it was near the end of the encampment and we were blowing off a little steam. Plus, there were only two CTAs around. CTAs are Cadet Training Assistants, AFROTC cadets a year older than us that were recommended to come back and be trainers. Some members of my flight decided to use the latrine after lights out to drop the MRE bomb that had been accumulating in our bowels due to the eating of 4 MRE meals over the past 2 days. Those things are SOLID. Anyway, we were smokin' and jokin' in the latrine when two CTAs came in. One of the CTAs was CTA Koehler, the CTA assigned to our flight. Now CTA Koehler, while extremely professional when he needed to be, also has a very goofy sense of humor. We figured we were busted when the CTAs came in, but then we hear this out of CTA Koehler: "You need to get back to bed, cadets. Gentlemen, poop at the speed of excellence."
Of course, at this point we all bust out laughing. One of the cadets from my flight decides that he's gonna add a little bit to the situation and starts grunting and straining, to which CTA Koehler responds with, "Now that's what I like to hear. Good job."
There'll be more funny (and not so funny) stories like this one from FT. Stay tuned.