Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Videos no longer available

I read a blog piece about one of the videos I had posted from Iraq. The piece, which can be found at Caitlin's Journalism Blogs has led me to reconsider having my videos available to the general public. While I appreciate the author's respect for the troops, I do not appreciate their statement, "I take issue with our training of soldiers."

The video the author is referencing is from Sunday August 21, 2005 around 2015 hours (8:15 pm). My platoon had just returned from conducting a BDA (Battle Damage Assessment) of a popular family restaurant just outside the gates of our Forward Operating Base in Kadhimiya that had been hit with two vehicle born improvisational explosive devises (car bombs). It was messy. You can read my original posting from August 22, 2005 here.

Upon completion of the Battle Damage Assessment we returned to base to rest and prepare for a mission we were to go on a few hours later. As we were downloading some of our gear and prepping our vehicles for later that evening, a series of mortar rounds began impacting and our fighting positions along the Tigris River began taking small arms fire.

Being the target of both direct and in-direct enemy fire, we did what we were trained to do. The video I had posted was of a M240B (machine gun) laying a belt of tracer rounds right into the source of the small arms fire that was aimed at us. From the video I posted, you couldn't see our rounds meet their targets. You couldn't see the mussel flashes from the barrels that were sending bullets down range aimed at us. What you could see was some Army National Guard Infantrymen immediately gain fire superiority over the enemy with a PFC screaming in the background, "light those mother fu*kers up!"

The author indicated a concern over the comments the PFC screamed in the video, and when the author thought about where those 7.62 rounds spraying from that M240B were going, they felt sick.

Well maybe if the author had been in our Battalion two weeks earlier when we lost two soldiers (Pfc. Hernando Rios and Sgt. Anthony Kalladeen), they would have felt sick then. Maybe if the author had conducted a Battle Damage Assessment of a crowded family restaurant that had just been hit with two car bombs, they would have felt sick. And maybe if the author had been with us when we were the target of mortars and bullets just moments before, they would not have felt so well.

Perhaps if the author had been with us the preceding eleven months they would have understood why that PFC was screaming when he was only a few weeks from being home, standing toe to toe with the enemies of his nation, and perhaps more importantly at the time the enemies of his friends. After all, isn't that what it is all about?

The terror and the adrenaline slamming together amidst the psychological conundrum of fight or flight syndrome balanced with discipline and effective training somehow results in the right thing being done time and time again. From the jaded hardness that comes from a year of walking the streets of Baghdad as a young Infantryman, staring into the face of a faceless enemy is eerily romantic, an opportunity to be cherished in the land of road side bombs and falling mortars.

I do regret that to many civilians that video may have made American soldiers seem anything other than professional and disciplined. But having the luxury of passing judgment from the safety of home or the floors of Congress can't be had without the trigger pullers.

Considering Anderson Cooper can show our soldiers getting shot by snipers on CNN, I didn't think that me showing our soldiers shooting back would be such a big deal. But if there is even the slightest indignation, then maybe this small window into Iraq shouldn't be made available to everyone. I don't want anyone to question the professionalism, the discipline or the training of America's Army National Guard.

And while the Author may be a student of sociology and psychology, the beast that is war and the preparation that is necessary to survive it will never be something even an expert in those studies could comprehend. No book, no seminar, no degrees and no interviews could ever come close.

It is one of those things you have to experience to understand. And because of people like the PFC with a vulgar tongue, the Author and the vast majority of every day America will never have that experience, thank God. That just means we are doing our job and doing it well.

I don't blame the Author for having abject opinion of military training or naivety of the real world outside the American bubble. I blame a plethora of variables beginning with horrific representation of this war by the media and western news outlets. I blame members of Congress for speaking of things they know nothing about for political gain. I blame people like John Kerry, Jack Murtha, Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi for condemning our troops and condemning this war without ever giving it a chance.

They have watered down our nation's motives and politicized the War on Terror to a state of dejection.
The less intense the motives, the less will the military element's natural tendency to violence coincide with political directives. As a result, war will be driven further from its natural course, the political object will be more and more at variance with the aim of ideal war, and the conflict will seem increasingly political in character.

- Carl Von Clausewitz