Saturday, November 30, 2013

Thanksgiving Weekend Links

Two incidents in the world caught my attention this Thanksgiving weekend. Neither will likely have much of an effect on the overall picture of anything, but they are interesting nonetheless.

The first was in Mali. The leader of the coup that occurred in March 2012 was arrested for kidnapping. Amadou Sanogo, who was a captain at the time and later promoted to general, had staged the coup because he claimed the government wasn't doing enough to fight the insurgency/guerilla war going on in northern Mali. Ironically enough, almost immediately after the coup the Tauregs along with extremist allies rose up and captured northern Mali from government forces. This arrest doesn't surprise me at all. The new government had little choice but to keep Sanogo around or else risk alienating the army, which would have created problems of their own. Instead they promoted Sanogo and waited for a proper time in which to arrest him. After all, he committed one coup, what's to stop him from doing it again?

Interesting story for me: while doing my constant travelling the past couple of weeks I got stuck on the tarmac in Charlotte, North Carolina. The guy next to me was from Mali so we actually had a pretty good conversation about current events in the country and some of Mali's modern history. He seemed pretty thrilled that he ran into someone who could talk intelligently about his country. I was thrilled just to be able to talk about something that very few people find interesting.

The second story comes out of Japan. An "improvised launch device" was found outside one of the air bases the US controls. Explosions were heard the night before but there was no damage to anything. Improvised mortars were used near the base in 2009 by the leftist group Kakurokyo so they are also most likely responsible for this attack as well. Probably nothing serious will come from this incident but it is slightly concerning.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Thoughts On the News

During my long break that I've taken before I start work back here in the States my dad and I decided to visit CNN and take the Studio Tour. It was fairly interesting and kind of neat to see the inner workings of a major news network.

However, I was disappointed in the news that CNN and HLN were choosing to cover. The major news of the day was the recent arrest of George Zimmerman, the Toronto mayor's wacky escapades, and some twin babies hugging while taking a bath (seriously?).

Now I am far from being the first to comment on this nation's piss poor coverage of world or even national news and events, but this is a serious concern of mine and I feel the need to comment. Zimmerman? A regional story at best. Toronto mayor? Interesting, but not something that should be spent a lot of time on. Twin babies in the bath? That's what the internet is for...or local news.

My dad and I visited on a Tuesday afternoon so I know it's not exactly the time of day that a news network is going to discuss major world events in depth but come on. A major typhoon had hit the Philippines, a civil war is occurring in Syria, Russia is preparing for the winter Olympics, and Afghanistan is...well, Afghanistan. No discussion about any of that?

If we are going to have an educated society that is able to have intelligent discussions about world, national, regional, and local concerns as well as vote in a knowledgeable and well informed way then we need to have news programs that provide its viewers with mature programming. It frustrates and bother me that to get adequate information on what is going on in the world I have turn to BBC and Al Jazeera.

We need to do better America.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Looking Back

As I mentioned in my last post, my forth deployment has come to an end after a little more than a year. After spending well over a week conducting a handover with my replacement I left NKAIA, Kabul and flew to Kuwait; which, as usual, was boring, too warm, and as close to purgatory as I think one can experience in this plane of existence.

I then spent a day and a half at Camp Atterbury, Indiana turning in equipment and doing lots of sleeping. From there I flew to central Virginia and began my inprocessing with my program at NGIC. It was frustrating at first because after a year all I wanted to do was take some time off where I wasn't stuck on some base and had the freedom to get away. Of course, after all my previous deployments I had to sit in either Kuwait or some other base for several days before going home and then do all the annoying redeployment stuff that the Army requires. This time just felt more irritating, especially when I was in Virginia and didn't have anything to do but couldn't leave work because "you still need to put in your 8 hours."

Ok, I'll just sit here and stare at the wall then.

Sitting in Kuwait as usual gave me too much time to look back and think on the deployment. It felt a bit like at the end of my third deployment. The mission felt incomplete; I think this is because I didn't leave with a unit. As a contractor on my own time schedule I was the continuity between the deployments of V Corps and III Corps as they took over ISAF Joint Command. III Corps still has a few more months to go and it kind of felt like I was abandoning them.

There was also a lot of frustration in the lack of success I had with my jackal targets (the insider threat target set). I did everything I could within my lane and capabilities and in that sense I was successful. However, in terms of removing the individuals from the battlefield, there wasn't much progress.

But that's the nature of deploying in support of counterinsurgency operations. You're not going to fix everything, put all the puzzle pieces together, or get all the targets. One of these days I'll remember that.