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    Default This One Speaks For Itself - Letter To The Editor

    Boyhood wish: kill enemy soldiers A violent culture led to Violent end

    Chris Christensen Sunday, August 14, 2005

    In our small town of Columbus, Texas (pop. 3,900), we buried one of our local sons on his 19th birthday. He was killed in action in Iraq on June 20. He was a friend of my two oldest sons, and his father was a friend of mine.

    There is not a lot for a young man to do in our town, and most leave for college or a job. Christopher came to see me at his father's request prior to enlisting last summer. I am an Air Force vet who served in Southeast Asia. I talked blue in the face to try to get Christopher to go with me to an Air Force or Navy recruiter. In fact, I told him in no uncertain terms that the Army would put a gun in his hands and send him out to be a target. He wouldn't listen.

    His head was already filled with a lot of crud from the recruiter about being a scout, riding a four-wheeler ATV around -- big fun! (Christopher was an Eagle Scout.) He had an acquaintance who had been doing that (not in Iraq), and I got the sense that this acquaintance was giving him the hard sell, too. I wonder if the Army has a referral bonus system.

    Christopher also had this inexplicable desire to "go shoot some 'Raqis." Maybe some latent desire from too much video gaming. I heard that in the weeks before his death, he was involved in a brief firefight and froze in terror. No doubt reality caught up to him at the speed of a 7.62-caliber bullet. Too bad his recruiter or buddy had not told him about the fear he would experience when he realized someone wanted to really hurt him or kill him.

    When I learned of Christopher's death, I was sitting, using a computer in a hotel lounge in Manhattan. (I'm an airline pilot and was on a layover in New York.) I broke down and cried. There were lots of others around and I'm sure they were wondering ... but none asked. I found I was crying not so much for the senseless loss of a young life, or even the grief our friends would bear. As I thought about it, I was crying for our country. What have we come to?

    This is my sadness. Our children are being weaned on hatred and violence in this country. It starts with television, gets reinforced and is refined with violent video games (one is produced and distributed by the U.S. Army), and finally the infection spreads through violent team sports in high school. Football in the South is the battlefield training ground for the next generation of cannon fodder. Kids are told to go out there and "hurt 'em, tear 'em up, kill 'em." It is ingrained.

    (Careful now, don't get me confused with the liberal left. I own guns and support conservatives. There is a huge difference between defense of home and property and exporting violence to other countries.)

    Christopher didn't know it, but as a small-town Southerner he was being trained for his death since early childhood.

    Our little town votes mostly Democrat in local elections, but typically votes Republican in presidential races. Discussion or debate about policy in public is seldom heard and somewhat discouraged. What a shame. Most people around here take a passing interest in national or foreign policy for a week or two prior to an election, then just turn back to football, or whatever is covered on the sports page that day.

    The notion of death or dismemberment at the hands of an enemy is so foreign as to be incomprehensible to most American youth. Our media does such a precise job of keeping images and details of such things out of the public eye. Not so for many foreign presses. Our schools would never consider teaching children about anything so morbid or unpleasant.

    The thought that a boy like Christopher would so lightheartedly desire to kill some people he knew nothing about is very distressing to me. On the one hand, Christopher was a pretty gentle and easygoing kid. If someone said to him, "Hey let's go shoot some kids from Sealy," a rival school, he would obviously have said, "You're crazy -- get lost!" But 'Raqis, why it's open season.

    He only saw the differences. He had somehow developed enough hatred to override his sense of right and wrong, and all teaching of love of fellow man. He went to the Southern Baptist Church, and I know it was taught to him. On the other hand, the president of the Southern Baptist convention declared this a "just war." A little hypocrisy there and probably confusing for Christopher. We left that church, by the way.

    A few men and women who knew Christopher had been supporting the occupation but are beginning to change their minds. His death is the second our rural county has experienced in the past few months. It is beginning to change some attitudes here -- but too late, I'm afraid.

    I hope that we learn sooner than we did in Vietnam that we can't successfully force our ideals on another society unwilling to adopt them or defend them for themselves.

    There just aren't enough Christophers to go around.

    Chris Christensen is an Air Force veteran who lives in Columbus, Texas. This piece first appeared at www.tomdispatch.com as a letter in response to Nick Turse's article, which is included here. Contact us at insight@sfchronicle.com.

    ------- (I think this is the reference article?)----

    Tomgram: Nick Turse on Cyberstalking the Recruitable Teen

    At some level, the situation is simple enough. As retired Lt. Col. Charles A. Krohn, former Army deputy chief of public affairs at the Pentagon and in Baghdad, put it recently in the Washington Post, the Bush administration has "basically committed most of the Army's active forces (including much of the National Guard), rotating them to the point of exhaustion." Eric Schmitt and David S Cloud, in a front-page story in the Monday New York Times (Part-Time Forces on Active Duty Decline Steeply) sum up part of the problem this way:

    "The Army says it has found ways to handle the dwindling pool of reservists eligible to fill the support jobs [in Iraq], but some members of Congress, senior retired Army officers and federal investigators are less sanguine, warning that barring a reduction in the Pentagon's requirement to supply 160,000 forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, or a change in its mobilization policy, the Army will exhaust the supply of soldiers in critical specialties.

    "'By next fall, we'll have expended our ability to use National Guard brigades as one of the principal forces,' said Gen. Barry McCaffrey, a retired four-star Army commander who was dispatched to Iraq last month to assess the operation. ‘We're reaching the bottom of the barrel.'"

    All of this has come in the course of fighting two small, ugly, colonial-style wars. And just because Iraq in particular is increasingly, in Krohn's phrase, a "sustained and unpopular war," refilling the ranks has proved no small problem for the Pentagon, which has recently found itself scraping the bottom of that recruitment barrel in all sorts of ways. This may sooner or later result in what Krohn calls a "hollow army." Add to this, the near-guaranteed loss of much of what's left of the none-too-impressive "coalition" in Iraq in the next year -- the Italians announced their first withdrawal of forces this week (to begin in September), the Brits are planning a major drawdown relatively soon, the stay of the Japanese troops (already largely locked inside their base in southern Iraq) is in question -- and the Bush administration is soon likely to find itself, like the cheese of children's song, standing very much alone in its mission, with a major domestic and international recruitment crisis on its hands.

    In fact, we may be watching a new phenomenon: withdrawal by military overstretch. Now, thanks to one of those documents that seem to leak constantly from crucial file drawers in England these days -- a memo written by British Defense Minister John Reid -- we know that not just the Brits, but the Pentagon has been seriously considering a major draw-down of forces in Iraq by early 2006, a near halving of American troop strength there. According to the Washington Post, "The [British] paper, which is marked ‘Secret -- UK Eyes Only,' said ‘emerging U.S. plans assume that 14 out of 18 provinces could be handed over to Iraqi control by early 2006,' allowing a reduction in overall U.S.-led forces in Iraq to 66,000 troops… The undated memo, which was reported in the newspaper The Mail on Sunday, stated that ‘current U.S. political military thinking is still evolving. But there is a strong U.S. military desire for significant force reductions to bring relief to overall U.S. commitment levels.'" Of course, given that it's Iraq we're talking about, between planning document and reality there are likely to be many pitfalls.

    And the "withdrawal" is conceptual as well. The American imperial mission is visibly buckling under the strain. (The 19th century Brits must be turning over in their graves as American power crumbles under the weight of small wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.) Until recently, the Pentagon, in its congressionally mandated Quadrennial Defense Review, has stuck to a two-war model of global dominance -- our military should, in essence, be able to mount a decisive invasion of Iraq and fight a second major campaign elsewhere on the planet almost as decisively at more or less the same moment (while still being capable of defending what is now commonly referred to as "the homeland"). Just last week, however, Thom Shanker and Eric Schmitt of the New York Times reported (Pentagon Weighs Strategy Change to Deter Terror) that the "Pentagon's most senior planners" were challenging that model in fierce internal debates and were opting instead for being prepared to wage but a single invasion-of-Iraq-style war combined with smaller counterinsurgency operations and a bolstering of domestic anti-terrorism defenses. As Fred Kaplan recently commented in Slate on-line (The Doctrine Gap), this will probably make no actual difference in the size, shape, or staggering cost of our military. But it is significant nonetheless. It represents a downsizing of ambitions, what the ancient Chinese might have called "the rectification of names" -- or the bringing of the naming of things back into line with reality.

    And inside the Pentagon that reality couldn't be clearer right now. After all, with the civilian leadership of the Bush administration proving itself almost incapable of finding willing natives out there in the imperium to fight its wars for it, military representatives have been discovering in the last year that the natives at home are restless as well. The services have responded to this situation by trolling desperately for future troops, thinking about a draft, and, as we know from recent news reports, starting to cut endless corners. Recruiters, for instance, preying on the supposed naïveté and susceptibility to bullying tactics of adolescents, have been discovered instructing teens in lying to their parents, forging documents, and beating the Army's drug-test system. When all else failed, jail time seems to have been a threat of choice. Interestingly, some of those teens have fought back, going public with a spate of scandalous revelations that forced a one-day "values stand-down" during which the military's recruiting standards were to be reviewed.
    If you don't do it RIGHT today, when will you have time to do it over? (Hall of Fame basketball player/coach John Wooden)

    "I may be slow, but my work is poor." Chief Dave Balding, MVFD

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    Get it up. Get it on. Get it done!

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    I see, video games made him do it. I joined because Wile E. Coyote encouraged me to play with TNT. All the times he blew himself up and came back, I thought it would be the same for me. Cartoons and video games control our lives and tell us everything we need to know.

    Before you blame recruiters or video games for his (supposed) naivete, how about taking someone taking responsibility? The author says he was a friend of the family-how were the boy and his friends raised to believe this nonsense? Sounds like someone wasn't parenting, and is now all too willing to blame everyone else.

    As far as running out of recruits, check again. Numbers are up. Yes, the Guard and Reserve are down, but that isn't for fear of getting killed-why join part time and get part time benefits when you're going to spend 2-3 years on active duty with the Guard?

    Here's another letter that speaks for itself. My aplologies to those who already read it on the other thread:

    "Al Neuharth used the deaths of Marines killed by an IED in Iraq to illustrate his point that we troops are not well protected and therefore should be brought home.

    I don't agree. And I'm one of the troops. I believe that it doesn't matter how these brave men were killed-Neuharth would use their deaths to dishonor their efforts.

    I'm on my second tour, many of my soldiers on their third, and I see no such desire to leave our fallen comrades' efforts in vain. I have four children and a wonderful wife waiting for me at home. I did not enlist in March of 2002 so I could spend more time with them. I did it to come over here, or wherever I was sent, to take this fight to those who started it. Don't bring me home before I am done.

    The truth is that those who were in the military before 9/11 have, for the most part, had the opportunity to get out if wartime service was not what they were looking for. By now, most of us have enlisted or re-enlisted in order to be over here. You want to support us? Support our decision to defend our country, or do it yourself.

    Sgt Brian P. Fitzgerald
    82nd Airborne
    Gardez, Afghanistan"

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    The most intersting thing about the media today is that they want to paint our soldiers as CHILDREN. No matter what their age, everybody in Iraq or Afganistan is a CHILD. That means they are to nieve to make their own decisions and that we need to be worried about them because after all, they're just babies. They don't know any better.

    That's complete bull****. Anybody who joins the military isn't a child. They are a grown adult fully capable of making their own decisions. The reason the media wants to make our soldiers out to be nothing more than big kids with guns is that it suits them. It makes it easy for them to sympathize with people like Cindy Sheehan who's 24 year old "child" died in Iraq.

    I am sick and tired of it.
    When I get to hell
    The devil he will say
    "How'd you put my fires out?
    In just one day?"
    I lift my hose up higher and higher
    that's how I do it, I'm a firefighter!

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    I read through two other letters and editorials that I didn't post regarding lowered recruiting numbers and of course furtherance to the letter I posted above. For the 'Coyote' or Video Game' made me do it....... well thats a personal choice. I am not sure how valid that might be in most cases. For myself, speaking as a 18yr "veteran" (I an not sure thats a good word to use but I've been around too long I guess) my original reason for joining up was to have a firm and steady job, that let me travel. I have both and I contribute to the health (at least I hope I do) at the same time. My patriotism is shown every day I wear the uniform.

    Its my HO that a person who joins the combat services, does so because he/she believes in something that is bigger than any single person.

    **there's more to this thought but its not clear enough to send out**
    If you don't do it RIGHT today, when will you have time to do it over? (Hall of Fame basketball player/coach John Wooden)

    "I may be slow, but my work is poor." Chief Dave Balding, MVFD

    "Its not Rocket Science. Just use a LITTLE imagination." (Me)

    Get it up. Get it on. Get it done!

    impossible solved cotidie. miracles postulo viginti - quattuor hora animadverto

    IACOJ member: Cheers, Play safe y'all.

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    This is the same crowd that lists as children,dead gangbangers in their late teens when everyone who has spoken to any teenager knows that over 18 is "...an adult and I am going to do what I please then."
    It is the worst thing to be at the funeral of someone who hads died too young.I think it would be far different if there WEREN'T people willing to risk death to secure Freedom for other countries despite the fact that in their own hometowns,there are people using their Freedom to vilify the soliders that protect them and enable them to do so.

    Quote Originally Posted by Spectre08
    The most intersting thing about the media today is that they want to paint our soldiers as CHILDREN. No matter what their age, everybody in Iraq or Afganistan is a CHILD. That means they are to nieve to make their own decisions and that we need to be worried about them because after all, they're just babies. They don't know any better.

    That's complete bull****. Anybody who joins the military isn't a child. They are a grown adult fully capable of making their own decisions. The reason the media wants to make our soldiers out to be nothing more than big kids with guns is that it suits them. It makes it easy for them to sympathize with people like Cindy Sheehan who's 24 year old "child" died in Iraq.

    I am sick and tired of it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by gunnyv
    As far as running out of recruits, check again. Numbers are up. Yes, the Guard and Reserve are down, but that isn't for fear of getting killed-why join part time and get part time benefits when you're going to spend 2-3 years on active duty with the Guard?
    I wouldn't care to call you mistaken, it's your country after all, but the press is certasinly portraying it as if there is a serious problem with recruiting, and with retention.
    A'int No Rocket Scientist's in The Firehall

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    The press is portraying it as such-you're correct. Notice how little attention they are paying to it now, compared to a few months ago? That's because they never report good news.

    They note that the Army provides the bulk of the forces in Iraq. What they don't say is that the Marines are suffering a higher percentage of casualties. Despite that they are still meeting their numbers.

    "Marines number more than 23,000 out of 138,000 members of the U.S. armed forces in Iraq, or 17 percent. Yet they have lost at least 530 of the more than 1,820 U.S. personnel who have died there, or 29 percent, Marine officials said. " AP, Aug 4, 2005

    Also, take into account that the Congress okayed an increase in Army endstrength of 30,000 this year, so that requires a corresponding increase in
    enlistments.

    Here's the WORST thing they can say-it comes from ALJAZEERA-you know they would report it in the worst possible light. Note that they admit that the Marines, Navy, and Air Force are all on target.


    From AlJazeera

    ""Iraq war makes US Army unattractive
    by
    Wednesday 10 August 2005 11:50 PM GMT


    The occupation of Iraq has severely dented US recruitment


    The US Army, hard pressed to attract new soldiers amid the Iraq war, seems doomed to miss its target for the year.

    The Iraq war marks the first test of the all-volunteer US military during a protracted war, and army officials have conceded that all three components of the army will likely miss their recruiting goals for fiscal 2005, which ends on 30 September.

    The army, aiming to get 80,000 recruits this year, stood 11% behind its year-to-date goal at the end of July, with just two months left to overcome a shortfall of more than 7000. It has not missed an annual recruiting goal since 1999.

    The army provides the bulk of ground troops in the Iraq war, in which about 1840 US troops have been killed and nearly 14,000 wounded.

    It achieved its second-straight monthly goal - sending 8,085 new soldiers into boot camp in July, topping its goal by 9% - after falling short in the previous four months, according to figures released by the Pentagon on Wednesday.

    Guard and Reserve

    The situation was bleaker in the part-time Guard and Reserve, used heavily in Iraq as the Pentagon seeks to maintain troop levels.

    "I know our recruiters are going to do what they can to close the gap, but right now it looks like we will miss both active and reserve (goals) at the end of the year," said Army Recruiting Command spokesman Douglas Smith.

    The Reserve missed its July recruiting target by 18%, getting 2131 recruits with a goal of 2585, and stood 20% behind its year-to-date target. It had a shortfall of about 4700 recruits toward its 2005 goal of 28,485.

    The Army National Guard has missed every monthly goal in fiscal 2005 after falling short in 2004 and 2003, the Pentagon said. It missed its July goal by 20% - getting 4,712 recruits with a quota of 2,585 - and was 23% behind its year-to-date target.

    Recruiting problems

    With two months left, it had a shortfall of more than 11,600 toward an annual goal of 63,002. The army has attributed the recruiting problems to a growing number of families who are wary of military service because of the Iraq war, and an improving economy that is creating more civilian jobs.


    The Pentagon is looking at new
    ways to retain military numbers

    "We've had some positive momentum, and I can assure you that it makes us feel better to have a couple of good months," Smith said, referring to active-duty recruiting in June and July. "The problem is that with the deficit we face for the remainder of the year, it's just a matter of time running out on us."

    The Army has upped the financial incentives for enlistment and added recruiters.

    Lowering the bar

    Last month the Pentagon asked Congress to raise the maximum age for enlistment in the military to 42. The ceiling now is 35 for active-duty service and 39 for enlisting in the reserves or National Guard with no prior military service.

    The Marine Corps made its July goal and was 2% ahead year-to-date. While the Air Force hit its targets, the Navy missed its July goal by 1% but remained slightly ahead of its year-to-date quota.

    Some defence analysts have argued the United States may have to consider resuming the draft, abolished in 1973 during the Vietnam War era, if the military is unable to attract sufficient numbers of recruits. The Pentagon opposes resumption of the draft. ""


    Reuters
    By

    You can find this article at:
    http://english.aljazeera.net/NR/exer...3093F69087.htm

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    A coyote Gunny? I joined because my buddy said it was fun and I should join so I could move to California. SUCKER.



    Matt

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    For instance, That woman in texas making a big scene.

    YOUR SON MADE THE DECISION TO JOIN. THERE IS A CONSIDERABLE RISK THESE DAYS WHEN YOU SIGN THOSE PAPERS. PLUS BUSH DIDNT TAKE YOUR SON, THE IRAQUI ANTI-FREEDOM PEOPLE DID.

    DID YOU JUST THINK THAT HE WOULD GET STATIONED HERE AT HOME BEHIND A DESK?

    HE MADE THE DECISION AND HE SERVED HIS COUNTRY, YOU SHOULD BE PROUD OF WHAT HE DID, NOT TAKING HIS DEATH AND USING IT DISGRACEFULY TO PROVE YOUR POINT.

    AND WHAT MESSAGE DOES THIS SEND TO THE TROOPS THAT ARE OVERSEAS FIGHTING? IT sends a message that we dont care about them.

    That farmer should of practiced his dove hunting on the cars of those protesters.

    Plus all these parents that are trying to keep recruiters out of schools. Get a friggen life. Maybe if they put the same energy into complaning about proplems that actualy affect the education at their school, then the education would not have as many problems

    If your son or daughter is 18yoa+ they have the right and privledge of signing up. AND there is nothing you can do to stop them if they want to sign up. Period.

    Rant OFF.
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    I am going to appologise ahead of time for my beligerent rant.
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    ---------------------------------------------------

    The light at the end of the tunnel has been temporarly shut off due to the current work load. The Mangement

    When all else fails USE DUCT-TAPE!!!

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    Quote Originally Posted by CaptainMikey
    I am going to appologise ahead of time for my beligerent rant.
    Actually Mikey, I am in full agreement with you on your rant. I can't say that my recruitment was special (other than they actually accepted my application ) but during my final interview, in 1987 no less, I was asked at least three times by the Air Force capt on my understanding that by making the final signature, I was accepting the responsibility of potentially going into a combat situation. Granted at that particular period in time, there was little expection of actual armed conflict, but as I answerd back that I understood all of that because that is what soldiers do. If I wanted a nice safe job, I'd be a janitor for some hotel in town.

    Final words: You sign the line, you accept the potential responsibility for combat operations. In this day and age, whether Canadian or American, the potential is more of a certainty than it has been in the last 60 years. Its sad to say that and sadder still to know it as a truth.
    If you don't do it RIGHT today, when will you have time to do it over? (Hall of Fame basketball player/coach John Wooden)

    "I may be slow, but my work is poor." Chief Dave Balding, MVFD

    "Its not Rocket Science. Just use a LITTLE imagination." (Me)

    Get it up. Get it on. Get it done!

    impossible solved cotidie. miracles postulo viginti - quattuor hora animadverto

    IACOJ member: Cheers, Play safe y'all.

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    Malahat,

    Your statement about the possibility of going to combat is right on.

    It really ticks me off when I see and hear the whinny little "kids" complain that they "joined for college money" when they get activated and then file to get out.

    Or the friggin' conscientious objectors have an epiphany about respecting a combatant only after they are told they are deploying to a combat zone.

    The media just laps it right on up too because they are dumb and as easily misled as can be.

    Me? I joined because there was nothing for me in the area that I lived and I knew I needed to grow up. Plus I got to fire weapons.
    "Too many people spend money they haven't earned, to buy things they don't want, to impress people they don't like." Will Rogers

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