Friday, October 01, 2010

Today I had the day!

So this morning I, which was really awesome because I have been wanting to for like months now. I couldn't believe how quickly it all, because you rarely expect to do that either. Afterward I went which required me to put on a different pair of shoes. CPT and I just laughed our off when he saw what SSG had put in his.
When several words are missing Doesn't make much sense does it? I hope that I will not have to write my blog like that in the future. Apparently someone back in the states felt that I should edit my blog, or at least one of my entries because he or she felt that I was violating operational security (OPSEC). Just to appease that person, I did edit my blog just in case. Even though I was certain that I was not in the wrong. Strangely though that person was to scared to send me an email themselves, so they sent a message to my friend, who is also deployed with me, so that he could council me on OPSEC.
As most anyone who has read my blog knows that this is my third deployment, and for each deployment I have received OPSEC training. Additionally yearly when I am just a normal Guard, one weekend a month, soldier I am required to complete OPSEC training. In my years int he military I have become very familiar with OPSEC and it's importance for soldier safety. I do not want to get myself, or more importantly any of my fellow soldiers currently deployed or those who may be deployed in the future hurt. I am well aware of keeping things that need to be kept secret, secret. Further all officers in the military are required to have a secret security clearance and I do not want to do anything that would jeopardize my future in the military by losing my clearance.
That being said I think that deployed bloggers are very important to telling the story about the lives and missions of our deployed soldiers, as well as the status of partners in this fight. I know that I am may not be the best or smartest writer, which is part of the main reason why I write my blog. I am smart enough to know that there are some things that do not need to be talked about or shared with others. Part for team safety and OPSEC. For me a bigger part of it is just for the mental sanity of my family back home. As far as I am concerned I would just assume that my family thinks that I spend my days just hanging out with my Terps and telling them stories about the US. Fortunately for my teammates and I, that is not necessarily far from the truth. Even though we are in a country in the midst of violence we have seen no violence. I have honestly yet to be scared when I gone on a mission outside the wire, and if I ever am I will probably will wait to share that story with my family till when I get home. They do not need to be scared by events that I experience here. The most frightening part of job thus far has been walking along the road to and from our Kandak. Many Afghan are not the best drivers in the world, and they like to speed which is a frightening combination. I have said it before, and I say it again here that the deployments I have been on are several times harder on my family and anyone else who might happen to care about me back home than it is on me.
I realize, that while not very likely, that there is a chance that the enemy might read about me and the things that I post in my blog. I do not post about troop strength, troop movements, upcoming plans, strengths or major weaknesses of our team or the ANA. There are some weaknesses in the ANA that we mentor, however this blog is not an appropriate forum in which to discuss those issues. Plus that is why we are here, to help mentor and correct those issues. I would rather focus on the positive aspects, for which there are a lot of, for both our Kandak as well as our team. Additionally I would also love to post some pictures of my terps, and talk more about them in detail because they are great guys. Because they are great guys and I care for them a lot; I do not ever want to hear about them being threatened or getting hurt. All of which is why I am cautious of the things that post. I am not however going to write stories like the one that I started at the top of this post.
One aspect that allows me to keep from editing ever other word or sentence is the vast amount of open source information already in publication. Much of which directly from the manufacture, the Army or Department of Defense. Even if someone thinks that I am possibly on the edge or revealing too much information about our weapons or equipment, everything that I have talked about is quite readily available through other sources and media. I don't feel that I have revealed anything that is not already known about our equipment by the enemy. I almost want our enemies to know about it's capabilities. The more they know about how awesome the stuff is that we are rolling outside the gate with the less chance that they will attempt to engage us. I don't think that enemy would want to waste his time, or money (because even Taliban have to pay for their home made bombs or ammunition) trying to attack our vehicles; as there is little chance of success. Further the enemy is not stupid when they see our up-armored vehicles with large caliber weapons, I'm certain that they know that they can get more for their dollar by attacking a less armored vehicle.
I am not sure what the person felt that I was violating OPSEC about, once again because they did not have the personal courage to write me and share with me their concerns so I will only venture to guess. If they think that I have talked to much about the MATV, I would encourage anyone to simply type MATV into Google or Bing. Should they go to wikipedia, they will find a great deal of information about the vehicle, much more than I have ever discussed or for that matter knew about the vehicle. Other than I wish that there are cup holders for everyone, and a glove box or map pouch for the vehicle commander I think that it is an awesome vehicle. I thank the American people for purchasing for us such an awesome piece of machinery. Perhaps the person felt that I was discussing too much information about the CROWS, which also can be readily found with any Internet search. I would highly recommend someone check out the Army peopsoldier site which also has more information about our system that I even knew. Once again all I know is that we are very fortunate to have such an awesome piece of equipment give to us by the American people. Our main complaint about the CROW system is that while our gunner is inside and protected, he is not about to wave back to all the kids and families that wave at us when we drive through towns. Believe it or not, even though our vehicles are big and loud they also bring out a lot of smiles when we drive through town. Because I didn't violate OPSEC with our equipment, perhaps they might have thought I crossed the line by posting pictures of what some people might call war porn of the vehicle which had been RPG'd. I would ask them to please pick up a copy of the Stars and Stripes, the newspaper which is distributed free to deployed service members, or most any newspaper or magazine that covers the war. Almost daily it seems there is a picture of a battle damaged vehicle in their coverage. I alluded to the fact that there was a person who had been killed which we happened upon during our mission, there is no picture of that person. Because I had no picture of that person. I would not disrespect a dead person, friendly or enemy, by taking their picture let alone posting it on my blog. That is just gross.
Every day I read a lot of newspapers, and whenever I write a blog entry about something that I or my team has done, I try and think the story through like a news story. If a reporter had been with us, would a reasonable reporter asked these questions or have been smart enough to see or notice the same things that I did. Would a reasonable reporter print some of the same things that I did. If what I'm writing doesn't pass the reasonable test, then I don't post it.
I would like to assure everyone that I am familiar with the Army's current blogging policy. I am not here writing looking for trouble. I am just writing trying to tell my story of my deployment, which I think in turn will tell the story of a lot of the good soldiers that I'm deployed with, and the progress of the people of Afghanistan and the Afghan National Army. I personally think that there are not enough embedded reporters in Afghanistan and Iraq, the wars (that's right I said 'wars' plural) are no longer sexy and don't sell enough papers. If people want to find out some of the truth about what is going, they are going to start looking elsewhere. I would hope that my truth is just as credible, if not more, than someone who is sitting at a desk in the pentagon press room waiting for a good quote from a government official several thousand miles away from where the action is taking place. If anyone has issues with the things that I write or write about, I encourage them to write me so that we can correspond about what they have issue with. I certainly don't want to get in trouble. I just want to complete my time here with honor, come home next year and find a new adventure.
Here is a link to a site about soldiers blogging, and the positive aspects of soldier blogs. This next link is about a pilot who it appears did everything correct in regards to his blog, yet still found himself in trouble.
As a side note, those who have been following my blog will likely know that I will be away for a while. This will likely be my last entry for a few weeks, as I will be going on my two weeks of R&R soon. Perhaps, you might be able to tell from my style that I might be a little bit grouchy, so it will be good to get away from the Army for a little while. Hopefully I will come back relaxed, refreshed, and ready to handle the last few months of my deployment. Because I don't want to be accused of violating OPSEC, I will just share that I am going somewhere south of the equator and hope to do some scuba diving as well as see some exotic animals.


Emily said...

enjoy your R&R! said...

In every good deed lies a small room for negative comments, whether is constructive or destructive but so as long as you know you the truth. There will always be that someone who will drag you down. Stay motivated/positive and know that, not all people feels the same way. I have not seen any OPSEC violation in your writings, and I have been in for 17 years active duty--to know OPSEC violation. Do not let one person ruin a good deed. Keep telling your story.

Bag Blog said...

Since the beginning of the "wars" I have followed lots of milblogs. Trust me, there are a lot more techinical blogs out there than what you post here. I like your combination of personal interest type stories and educational type stories - a day in the life of a soldier. Do keep the stories coming. Have fun on your R&R.