"But war, in a good cause, is not the greatest evil which a nation can suffer. War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things: the decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks nothing worth a war, is worse. When a people are used as mere human instruments for firing cannon or thrusting bayonets, in the service and for the selfish purposes of a master, such war degrades a people. A war to protect other human beings against tyrannical injustice – a war to give victory to their own ideas of right and good, and which is their own war, carried on for an honest purpose by their free choice – is often the means of their regeneration. A man who has nothing which he is willing to fight for, nothing which he cares more about than he does about his personal safety, is a miserable creature who has no chance of being free, unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself. As long as justice and injustice have not terminated their ever-renewing fight for ascendancy in the affairs of mankind, human beings must be willing, when need is, to do battle for the one against the other."

Friday, August 20, 2010

I don't have time for paperwork, I'm operating here / Fear my flight suit!

It's entirely possible that I'm starting to take the MRF too seriously, because the phrase "I don't have time for (blank), I'm operating here" has become a disturbing staple of my daily vocabulary. Disturbing, because I'm only half-kidding when I say it. Am I really "operating"? No. I sit somewhere with a radio, talking to aircraft that aren't always real. But I'm in close proximity to operators, where operating is going on under my very nose. Plus, I wrote a brilliant piece of administrative gobbledygook to justify to my command why the security platoon that protects the perimeter while the Force Recon guys do their thing needs to wear the same flight suits that the FRP (Force Recon Platoon) does. And maybe I ordered one for myself while I was at it. So now, with the exception of my flak jacket - the configuration of which displays my half-understanding of what it means to be tactical - and my baby fat, I look like the operators. And for just $1,000 (or 10000 yen) you can too!! I take cash or traveler's checks. Anyway, I can't tell you how gratifying it was when I discovered there was a way that I could wear a flight suit during my ground tour. I am an evil genius, second only to my son who's probably built a volcano lair in his sandbox in the backyard when I wasn't looking.

Things have improved since my last post. The bruising from my experiment in self-powered flight has pretty much gone, and there's only a little soreness left in my ankle. And the MRF finished its second major training hurdle prior to getting on the boat, leaving me with the promise of actually enjoying something called a "weekend" tomorrow. Starting last Friday and going through Tuesday, we planned and executed phase 2 of our specific work-up training, which involved doing raids on objectives in an urban environment. Technically speaking, this was supposed to be more of the "walk" phase of "crawl-walk-run", but since we're doing another similar event prior to the MEU's certification, it was more of a "let's play mad scientist and see what crazy different attachments we can slap onto the MRF" than a true intermediate step. As I'm discovering, there's no concrete template for what the MRF has to look like. Oh, the basics stay the same, with the FRP and its attached security element always part of the mission, but outside of that, we've played mix-and-match with a lot of different agencies.

Our first exercise, a couple of weeks ago, was a basic ground convoy; this time, we did a pure helicopter assault, and then a ground assault with the firepower of our Light Armored Reconnaissance platoon. I've got to admit, if I can't ride to battle at the controls of my helicopter, the Light Armored Vehicles of LAR is the way to go. This is the third time I've worked with them, and it's like going to war in a Cadillac. It's fast, it can navigate a great variety of terrain, it's got good protection, I can pop my body out the back hatch to see what's going on and control aircraft, and if things get hot, it has the 25mm Bushmaster cannon that quickly makes anyone shooting at the vehicle regret it.

Those two raids took a lot out of me, as Bree can attest to from my last phone call to her. I'm not entirely sure my conversation with her had anything resembling a coherent thought, but I do remember that I was able to mumble out the words "we're going to have another baby" to my parents. And if I didn't say that, then my parents got strangely excited at me telling them Gollum was smothered in rabies. But I've been able to recover the last few days, just time to blast into the weekend full speed ahead. For anyone wanting to get a taste of what the exercises were like, you can find a video of the helo raid on Facebook by searching for 1st Battalion, 7th Marines.

Oh good, it's raining again. But it's sunny outside. God, this place is weird.

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