Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Some Miscellaneous Notes I Found

As I was trying to determine a topic for today's post I came across some interesting notes I wrote to myself in one of my many "green books" that I have managed to keep from my time in the Army (a green book being a book for notes that everyone in the Army carries that just happen to be green). Based on the date these notes were written in late February 2011 as I was wasting my time at FT Benning, GA as an augmentee for the military's Joint Forced Entry Warfighter opposed to wasting my time at FT Huachuca. Anyway, here are my thoughts/notes at this particular moment in my life. Discuss amongst yourselves:

- Draft deferments given to college students. Many in higher education avoided military service (during the Vietnam War and prior). Has this led to anti-military thought and practices in many universities?

- Maneuver (i.e. infantry, armor, field artillery) platoon leaders and company commanders receive training on how to integrate enablers (engineers, psyops, etc) but are not trained on integrating military intelligence enablers (HUMINT teams, SIGINT teams, etc). This leads to a lack of knowledge on how to utilize these assets and a determination that they are not useful when they end up not being utilized properly.

(I have a slightly interesting story that I may discuss in the next blog about an infantry Ops Sergeant Major who clearly didn't understand how HUMINT teams operate.)

- Why do we train foreign militaries to organize, fight, and train in a Western/American style? Smaller nations (Georgia, Kuwait, etc) should be trained to fight asymetrically in order to defeat a larger military.

(I would argue that in a conflict between Georgia and Russia, a few dozen IEDs could be more effective than a few tanks if placed and detonated properly.)

- A Combined Arms BN is authorized 15 soldiers in the S2 (intelligence) section.

(Too many or too few? At it's highest number my S2 section with 1-14 numbered 9 which includes me, not factoring in the HUMINT soldiers I received from brigade. And I only had 8 in Iraq since one analyst didn't deploy due to legal trouble. Include the 1 soldier I always had tasked out and that left me with 7...split between two different bases 100km apart for much of the deployment. Talk about a challenge. The infantry battalion I was with also only had 9 total soldiers and that included the additional staff sergeant we were given from one of the companies. When I was in the support battalion there were only 3 of us.)

- There is a reason military intelligence officers are not in command of maneuver elements...they over-think and create confusion.

(This note just makes me laugh)

Monday, August 27, 2012

PKK Taking Advantage of Syrian Chaos

In case any of you were wondering, I did indeed return from Turkey. The trip was absolutely amazing and I got to see pretty much everything I wanted to see, which was basically just really old shit, because old shit is cool. I have spent the last several days recovering and re-adjusting to Pacific Coast time. This "recovery from vacation" is one of those glorious "first world problems" that most people seem to desire after a long vacation but can never really achieve because of daily responsibilities like jobs. Another perk of being unemployed.

Anyway, the day my friends and I left Turkey a remote-controlled car bomb was detonated in the southern Turkish city of Gaziantep which is only a couple of hours drive from the Syrian city of Aleppo...the same Aleppo that is currently under seige by pro-Assad forces. Turkish government officials blamed the PKK, a Kurdish terrorist group that seeks an independent Kurdistan.

Earlier in August an Iraq to Turkey oil pipeline was sabotaged inside Turkey close to the Syrian border. The PKK was also believed responsible for that attack.

The PKK is also suspected in an attack against a Turkish military bus in western Turkey a few days after the oil pipeline attack.

Why do I bring this up? Pretty much just to point out that the Syrian civil war is bleeding over to other countries. The PKK is likely taking advantage of the situation and likely increased freedom of movement due to the breakdown in security in Syria. The PKK may be hoping that with the eventual fall of the Assad regime the Kurds can establish an autonomous Kurdish state in northern Syria. Turkey would never allow this to occur so the increased attacks may be being conducted in order to focus Turkey's attention inwardly and prevent any interference from Turkey in establishing an independent state.

What is more likely to happen, however, is that Turkey uses these attacks, and any future attacks, as a reason to send "peacekeeping" forces into northern Syria in order prevent more terrorist operations as well as discourage any attempt at creating a Kurdistan.

Lebanon is also seeing its share of violence. Clashes have occured in the city of Tripoli between pro and anti-Assad groups. This being Lebanon I'm sure the situation is a lot more complicated than that, but the situation in Syria is likely the fuse on that particular powderkeg.

When does the UN plan on doing anything beside send observers to observe people being slaughtered?

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Quick hiatus

This blog will be on a short 2 week (ish) break while I take a much needed vacation to Turkey. I will do my best to avoid insulting Mustafa Kemal or being kidnapped by the PKK so that I may return home and continue my random blogging. Enjoy the remaining few weeks of summer!

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Civilian to veteran interactions: Part III

I really wish I didn't have to continue or update this little mini-series I have on civilian/veteran interactions but it still boggles my mind (even though it shouldn't) that often times people really have no idea how to act or even talk to a veteran.

For me, there have been two recent conversations I've had that afterwards I thought to myself, "what in the world did they mean by that?"

A few weeks ago I decided to volunteer for the Peace Corps since the job hunt wasn't working out so well and I figured what the hell, I've got a lot to offer and I'm always up for another adventure. Long story short, they didn't want me because I'm a former intelligence officer. Sucks when you can't even volunteer for something. Anyway, during my conversation with the nice woman at the front desk I mentioned that I had done 3 deployments to Iraq. Her response: "you're remarkably well adjusted. That's very commendable."

What the hell does that mean? You've spoken to me for about 5 or 10 minutes and you know that I'm well adjusted? Are you assuming that everyone who comes back from a deployment is messed up in the head in some way?

The next conversation actually occured yesterday at a BBQ. The BBQ was a "pre-celebration" for some friends of mine who are getting married today and the bride's mom was going around and meeting everyone. I was sitting with my usual group of teacher friends and when introductions began I had my typical sense of doom knowing I would have to explain my current situation.

The bride's mom asked me if I too was a teacher to which I explained in my standard way that I was not, I had recently left the Army. She then remembered that I played soccer with the bride and that the last she met me I was about to deploy; she concluded with, "I'm glad everything worked out for you."

I think she was trying to find a polite way of saying, "I'm glad you didn't get killed over there."

Perhaps I'm reading too much into conversations but I'm pretty sure normal people don't have to deal with odd statements like those. To say, "I'm glad everything worked out for you" without having any inkling of the past 3+ years feels similar to a brush off. "Everything" didn't work seeing how I am currently out of a job or had to waste over a year of my life in Arizona to figure out the Army wasn't working for me. "Everything" certainly didn't work out for the 4 soldiers in my Squadron or the 8 total from the Brigade who didn't come home.

I'm just going to start telling people I'm a janitor.