Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Good news

Another great story about the real reason we're in Afghanistan, to rebuild a shattered country and restore the hope. Education is the key to building a peaceful and hopeful society, but ya gotta have schools first. Here's a story about how some American forces helped turn a Taliban prison into a schoolhouse. From American Forces Press:

KANDAHAR AIRFIELD, Afghanistan, Aug. 28, 2004 –– The convoy crested a dusty hill and the riders could see Shah Wali Kot below. The village is nestled in a small valley with brown hills that reach skyward on either side. Children in the village stopped to look as vehicles rolled into town. They turned and waved.
An Afghan girl named Negeba paints a wall in a Shah Wali Kot classroom. She assisted coaliton servicemembers who visited her village during a recent "Make a Difference Day" renovation project.
This was not the first time the Americans had come to their village, and their faces displayed the eagerness with which the visit was welcomed.
Shah Wali Kot is slightly larger than many rural villages in the area. At least 20 buildings dot the town's landscape. Some homes sit on the hillsides, while others line the road that follows the valley.
More than 50 volunteers from Kandahar Airfield came to help on the recent "Make a Difference Day" organized by the soldiers of 3rd Squadron, 4th Cavalry Regiment. Getting up early and riding more than two hours to reach the village north of Kandahar, the volunteers descended on Shah Wali Kot's school to fix up the building and give the classrooms a fresh coat of paint.
Under Taliban rule, the school had been used as a jail. While observing the work being done to repair the school, Lt. Col. Mike McMahon, the regiment's commander, pointed out the improvements being made.
"Those windows were full of bricks from when the Taliban used the building as a jail," he said. "We're here to help (clean up the school) and make this a community project." The improvements were a joint effort between the American volunteers and the people of Shah Wali Kot.
Along with the civilian and military volunteers from Kandahar Airfield, McMahon noted all the children working on the school. "They're the future of Afghanistan. They're the ones that jump in and join us," he said smiling. Some children were pushing brooms, sweeping away the dust. Some had paint brushes and were painting walls, the green and white paint dripping on their hands and spatters going into their hair. All of them grinned widely as they worked.
Running from room to room to check on the progress, 2nd Lt. Jamie McNamara was the task organizer for the school project. She only slowed down to share a smile with a small Afghan girl, Negeba, who followed McNamara nearly everywhere she went. The relationship between the two began two weeks prior, when a smaller group of volunteers from the unit came to start the work on the school.
The first trip was scheduled to clean up the building and get it ready for painting. Both days, McNamara coordinated the worker's efforts while jumping into the work herself.
"Jamie!" a very young Afghan boy called. He smiled and beckoned for her to come see what he had accomplished. The scene was repeated with different children calling the lieutenant to talk to them or see what they had done.
Capt. Nelsa Caceres-Agosto, commander of the Arrival/Departure Airport Control Group, also brought eight servicemembers out to help. Her group, a mix of soldiers and airmen, were glad to share in the experience. Each of them indicated they wanted to help the Afghans and see more of the area around Kandahar. "I wanted to see what Afghanistan looked like," said Air Force Staff Sgt. Annette D. Garcia, 376th Expeditionary Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron radio operator.
They weren't the only ones glad to have an opportunity to see more of the countryside.
"This was something the (Soviets) never did here – to approach and take care of the people," said Staff Sgt. Darrell Osborne.
Wahdat, an interpreter for the mission, grabbed a paint brush and joined in the work.
"I am volunteering since I have to be here anyway," he said jokingly. He walked over to Agosto and pretended to paint her head. They laughed and the two resumed painting the walls of one of the larger classrooms.
In the afternoon, as the clean-up and painting continued, McMahon met with the village elders and school officials. He listened to their concerns and needs as Wahdat translated the conversation. They seemed pleased.
All the work on the school would mean that the children of the Shah Wali Kot district would have a place to study and learn. Teachers would no longer need to search for space to hold classes.
The inability to hold regular classes made it difficult to assess the number of students that might attend the school. Through the work of the community and volunteers, young people will now have a place to attend school regularly.
After the school was cleaned up and the rooms painted, the villagers and the volunteers gathered on the porch of a nearby building. Everyone shared the local bread, watermelon and grapes offered by the villagers. Tired from the work and heat, the volunteers were ready to get back to Kandahar.
Spc. Folet Dussault, captured the group's mood. On the way out of the village he said, "It was a long, tiring day. But it was a good day." With that, the convoy crested the hill and Shah Wali Kot dropped from view.


Monday, August 30, 2004

More Afghan Election

More from the Armed Forces Press about election security

JALALABAD, Afghanistan, Aug. 27, 2004 –– With Afghanistan's Oct. 9 presidential election quickly approaching, the nation's police are gearing up to handle this busy time. They not only are preparing to ensure the election goes smoothly, but also are learning how to handle any crisis that may arise.
Army Spc. Jerald Stephens, 58th Military Police Company, congratulates a Jalalabad policeman after his graduation from a refresher course to brush up on skills they'll need as the country's presidential election approaches. Photo by Pfc. Chris Stump, USA(Click photo for screen-resolution image); high- resolution image available.
The Jalalabad police department's quick reaction force is sending its policemen through a refresher course on police tactics, first aid and explosives, which is taught by U.S. Army military police, medics and an explosive ordnance disposal team at the Jalalabad provincial reconstruction team site.
The first class of 20 Afghan National Police graduated from the Police Tactical Advisory Team's four-day refresher course in July. During the course, the policemen brushed up on vital skills they may need in the coming months, said Staff Sgt. Albert Matel, 58th Military Police Company PTAT team leader.
The PTAT, in conjunction with EOD and the PRT's medics, used their skills to teach the police officers additional skills and help them become more proficient by administering practical exercises, he said.
This group of Afghan policemen was just the first of four that will take the PTAT refresher course, said Matel. The quick reaction force will be "the first ones on the scene to see what is happening, or has happened. It's important they know their stuff," said Spc. Jerald Stephens, a PTAT team member.
The PTAT, medics from the PRT and an EOD team went over many of the basic skills the policemen may need to use during a busy time like elections, he said. Among the skills were protecting a crime scene, reacting to a bomb threat, searching vehicles and personnel and setting up a traffic control point.
"There's a good chance they'll have to use many of these skills we went over when the elections happen. They've already learned all these procedures, we are just going over them again to ensure they know it well," said Stephens.
They're all tactics the police must be sharp on, said Col. Mohammed Kaun, Jalalabad police department training officer and course attendee. "In this training we had practical exercises that will help us very much if something happens," he said.
These exercises ranged from hands-on vehicle and personnel searches to operating traffic control points. The types of exercises the policemen practiced in the class were those they will almost certainly see while on duty, said Stephens.
During the elections, villages throughout Afghanistan will be busier than normal, and there will be an increased threat level from those wanting to disrupt the elections, said Matel. This increased threat level places even more pressure on the policemen, and adds to the necessity of the course, he added.
These police weren't only made more aware of what to look for in stopping acts of terrorism, though. The class also refreshed important life-saving skills through a class resembling the U.S. Army's Combat Lifesaver Course, said Spc. Lance Morrow, Company A, 1st Battalion, 168th Infantry Regiment, a medic and instructor at the course.
"We're reinforcing their training on the basics like field dressings, burns and (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) – things they could definitely see while they are out patrolling," said Morrow. "It's stuff all policemen should know – especially first responders to the scene of an accident."
Some situations, though, may require more than first aid. They may involve getting rid of a threat before first aid even becomes necessary, such as the threat posed by an improvised explosive device. This is where the EOD team members brought their background to the table.
"Our main goal in the EOD instruction was to make them aware of the different devices that can be used," said Sgt. 1st Class Mark D. Simeroth, 754th Ordnance Company. The class learned many of the tactics terrorists could implement in an IED attack.
"With the upcoming elections they have to be prepared for anything," said Simeroth. "They already have most of the skills," said Matel. "We just wanted to add what we could and make them as proficient as possible."

Afghan Elections

Some details on guarding the Afghan elections, from the American Forces Press Service:

WASHINGTON, Aug. 26, 2004 – Coalition forces in Afghanistan are gearing up for the Oct. 9 elections in that country, Pentagon officials said today.
There are about 18,000 coalition forces in Afghanistan, with about 16,500 of them American. In addition, about 7,000 NATO service members are serving as the International Security Assistance Force.
Coalition officials in Afghanistan said U.S. and other coalition forces are moving in the country to help the Afghan National Army and the Afghan police provide security for the elections.
Afghan and coalition officials were pleased with the response the call for elections produced in the Afghan people. About 9.8 million Afghans registered to vote in the elections that will choose a president. Around 42 percent of those who have registered are women.
U.N. officials in New York said reports from the country convince them that Afghanistan will have free and fair elections. They said safeguards are in place to ensure people vote only once and that only those eligible will vote.
The problem will be security, U.N. officials said.
Combined Forces Command Afghanistan officials believe that Taliban remnants will try to disrupt the elections. Part of Operation Lightning Resolve is to counter the Taliban and al Qaeda threat to polling places and to voters. A military official in the Pentagon said that some relocations of coalition forces within the country have already been made, and others are pending.
The official said the coalition forces are not the only guarantor of security: the Afghan National Army and the Afghan police are becoming increasingly effective.
The Afghan National Army now has about 15,000 troops based around the country. They are working with coalition forces and on their own to provide a safe and secure environment for the election, officials said.
More coalition troops are coming to the country to provide security. A Spanish battalion and an Italian battalion have begun deployment to the country. They will be in place well before the October election, said NATO officials.

Saturday, August 28, 2004

Keep your gamma off my ganja

Check out this story from Wired about a new scanning device thats getting its first test run on the Texas/Mexico border. The Pulsed Fast Neutron Analysis system will be able to scan an 18 wheeler and tell an agent the molecular construction of all its contents without ever having to open 'er up. Very cool indeed. And its not even a new technology, its just something that is now worth the price no matter what it is.

"This could be the most powerful technology in our war on terrorism," said Reye's spokeswoman, Kira Maas. "It really is incredible."

The Media is the Real Enemy

My favorite Iraqi blogger Omar tells it like it is over at 'Iraq the Model'.
Here's a taste:

"So let me see, I’m a reporter in Iraq and I’m here to tell stories that sell from a land that has been invaded, as everyone is saying it was invaded and not liberated. God, that must be awful! Ok so I need destruction, death, fear, clashes in the streets, angry mob...etc. Where do families having dinner in a place they couldn’t afford before the war, or a father buying a new car for his son which he also couldn’t afford before, or a man renewing his house which was falling apart, or free speech and flourishing business, where does all this fit in such a frame?! It doesn’t! Besides, where's the action in such boring stories!? "

God Bless this guy, and all Iraqis fighting to make a living, despite the fact that so many people seem to want them to fail.
Now go read the whole story.

If you are one of the 10 or so people that visit my site on a semi regular basis I apologize for not posting more lately. I've been extremely busy with work, working every night at home after I get home from the office, which is my usual blogging time. I was in a funk and doubting the importance of my blogging, wondering if I should keep doing it. I think my problem was I was taking it too seriously and worrying too much. I want everything I do to be the best it can be, and certainly like all bloggers I want it to be popular, and neither of those things were happening. So I've decided to stop worrying so much and just post whenever and whatever I can. Making an interesting blog is a lot harder than it looks, and takes more effort than I want to give sometimes. But I'll try to do better. For now, I've got a ton of press releases to share this weekend so I'll be posting those, and hopefully a few other things. If you're new, thanks for stopping by, if you've been here before, thanks for coming back.

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

Go Rangers!

I finally went to my first Rangers game of the year, and it was a good one. Kinda low scoring, 3-3 going into the 9th. The Twins scored 1 in the top of the 9th, but the Rangers had the answer. A long one down the third base line drove the tying run in, and with 2 outs, a long one down the first base line drove in the winning run. Wooohooo! It was a beautiful night for a baseball game, 91 degrees at 7 when we got there and 86 by the time we left at 10, with an occasional breeze. Glad we won, I didnt really wanna be there all night, tho I would have used the excuse not to work. But now I'm home, so I gotta do some work. Its gonna be a busy few months, I gotta build atleast 2 models a week till atleast November, then aside from whatever projects I'm working on I'll have to start building models for IITSEC. Maybe this year cuz I've already built so many models they'll just use some that are already built.
I've still got some tickets so I'll probably be going to another game pretty soon.

Sunday, August 22, 2004

night sign Posted by Hello

farm Posted by Hello

still alive

just a post to let my family know i survived the korn concert.
i told you i'm gettin too old for the pit, so no worries.
i'll try to work up the motivation to do a review of the concert tomorrow.
i spent all day today laying on the couch watching the olympics.
i'm trying to think of a reason why i should keep blogging. its not like im contributing anything meaningful to the 'sphere.
i'm in a serious funk.
going to bed


Tuesday, August 17, 2004

What a buncha

Great news, it looks like American football is catching on in Russia. Of course if you have football, you have to have cheerleaders. To have cheerleaders you have to have a cheerleading company. And if you have a company, you have to have a name. But picking a name can sometimes be tricky.

I bet its tricky going to an interview. You cant just come right out and say you want to be an Assol.
"At first, people thought that anyone could go out there, wave a pompom and call themselves cheerleaders," said Novikova, who has been with the club since its formation in 1998. "Now people know that cheerleading is an extremely demanding, extremely specialized sport."
Apparently, not just anyone can be an Assol. There goes my theory.
According to Elvira Sokolova, an Assol trainer since 1998, the physical aspects of cheerleading...are not the most challenging part of the process for the club's new recruits.
I'm sorry Elvira, what did you say your job title was?
"They get the physical stuff sooner or later," she said. "What they find difficult is keeping a smile on their face for two full hours. I always tell them that spirit is just as important as learning all the moves."
Well I imagine after all that Assol training it would be a little difficult to smile.



Beaches

Well the American men lost to the Canadian men in beach volleyball. What the F? C'mon, we are the land of beach volleyball, Canada is the land of ice fishing.
Well atleast the American women beat the Canadian women. Pretty nicely too.
Do you think the Iranian athletes sneak in to watch the womens beach volleyball? Can the Muslims even watch any women's sports? Fencing is probably the only one they're allowed to watch since the athlete is completely covered. They gotta be freaking seeing women all 'uncovered' like that. I can't imagine living in such an assbackwards society. That would suck.
Thank you God for birthin me in America.


Monday, August 16, 2004

Roads are more than transpo

In Afghanistan, paved roads do more than just make it easier to travel from one city to another. They stimulate the economy. Tradesmen can travel faster, making it easier to do more trade. When travel is made easier, more people are willing to travel. More people travel to the city to make or spend money. People living along the roads set up shops roadside to sell their wares to travelers. I never really thought about how much just building roads can help stimulate the economy till I read this article from the American Forces Press Service. Check it out.

GHAZNI PROVINCE, Afghanistan, Aug. 13, 2004 –– Members of the Ghazni provincial reconstruction team and the local government are looking at long-term improvements to be made in their region, adding to the redevelopment taking place throughout Afghanistan.
Road improvements taking place in Ghazni, Afghanistan, include repairs being made to the bridges in the area. Photo by Sgt. Stephanie L. Carl, USA(Click photo for screen-resolution image); high-resolution image available.
One of those projects with long-term benefits is improving roads in the area. This project tackles two issues -- the landscape and the economy.
"We've been able to pave about five kilometers of road," said Lt. Col. Steven J. Ford, Ghazni PRT commander. Included in these five kilometers are Kandahar Bus Station Road, which had its official opening July 29, and Hospital Road. Both of these streets run along bustling business districts and provide convenient passage to market areas.
"We spent around $300,000 on Hospital Road," said Allen Nugent, Ghazni PRT's U.S. Agency for International Development representative. The funding for each of the roads came from USAID, which allocates money to development projects.
"Both Hospital Road and Kandahar Bus Station Road connect to Ring Road," said Nugent. This makes them an economic asset to Ghazni city, which is one of the largest cities in Afghanistan. Ring Road links major hubs of Afghanistan, such as Kabul and Khandahar, providing a developed route for economic growth.
Already, business establishments are starting to sprout up along the new roads, from fabric stands to fresh produce stalls, as entrepreneurs are looking to profit from the influx of passersby. "We really hope these projects assist with economic development," said Nugent.
But the improvements don't stop with downtown Ghazni. Bazaars and other establishments have begun to open in areas anticipating future projects.
"We're also looking at ways to link the outlying areas of Ghazni to Ring Road," said Nugent. Another project in the design phase is a road from Ghazni to Gardez, an important trade route for the merchants of both areas.
"This project is going to be planned and completed by several contractors," he said. "This will help bring even more money to the Afghan people."
While the PRT and agencies such as USAID are providing the funding for the roads themselves, Ghazni's provincial government is making other improvements right along with them.
"These roads have curbs, sidewalks and covered drains," said Nugent. The provincial government itself, hoping to further improve the living conditions and infrastructure in Ghazni, made these improvements.
"They've even installed streetlights along the roads," said Maj. Scott C. Ford, Ghazni Civil Military Operations Center commander. "When you drive through here at night, it looks almost like an American city."
With the combined efforts of the PRT and the Afghan government, it's only a matter of time before Ghazni finds itself classified as a center of commerce for Afghanistan, said the PRT commander.
"These roads are presenting an immediate ripple effect," he said. "As soon as we have the ground-breaking for a road, there is an immediate economic impact."

Power to the people

It is a shame that the people of Iraq do not have power 24/7 throughout the country, but the fact is more people have electricity service now then did before the war. The fact that the need outstrips the supply is in fact a good sign. More and more people are buying a/c units, refrigerators, washers, proving that the economy is improving. Despite the fact that the only thing that you see is the negative on your nightly news, Americans and our Allies are working day and night to make that country a better, more prosperous free nation. Today another generator was brought online to give more Iraqis more reliable power service. Read more from this DoD press release

BAGHDAD, Iraq, Aug. 16, 2004 – For the third time in two weeks, Iraqi and U.S. engineers have brought more electricity to the people of Iraq by commissioning a power plant.
The 52-megawatt generator at the Khor Az Zubayr Power Plant, about 40 kilometers south of Basrah, fired for the first time Aug. 15, bringing enough power on line to service 156,000 Iraqi homes.
"This is a very important step in overcoming the power shortage across the country," said Raad Shalal, a senior official in Iraq's electricity ministry. "This will help us reach our goal of increasing power for the country."
Electricity production in the country averages about 5,000 megawatts, a total that exceeds pre-war levels and services an estimated 15 million Iraqi homes, officials said.
"We continue to work in partnership with the Ministry of Electricity and the Iraqi people to bring the country more electricity," said Maj. Erik Stor, the operations officer for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' "Restore Iraqi Electricity" directorate. "We know how important electricity is to the safety and security of the Iraqi people, and we continue to work on their behalf with the ministry to bring the country additional electricity."
Since Saddam Hussein's regime was toppled, much of the news in Baghdad has focused on the availability of less power in the capital city, a focus Stor said is misleading.
"It is important to remember that Baghdad was one of few cities across this nation that had electrical service prior to the regime change," he said. Within months, he added, power was redistributed to help build "a fair and equitable national power system for Iraq and its future."
Despite the addition of power to the country's national grid, the demand for electricity in Iraq continues to grow, according to an electricity ministry fact sheet.
"With more than half a million new jobs created, new industries and new factories coming on lin,e and with the sale of thousands of home appliances such as washing machines and air conditioners, Iraq has experienced a rapid increase in electricity demand," the fact sheet reads. "The increase in demand is a good sign of a thriving economy emerging from three decades of isolation."
Increasing available electricity is slated to continue throughout August, as additional generators are expected to come on line throughout the month and bring more electricity to the people of Iraq, officials said. Since beginning its work in the country nearly a year ago, the Corps of Engineers has added 1,500 megawatts to the Iraqi national grid, they added.

It takes all kinds

Afghanistan is made up of many different kinds of people, Pashtun, Uzbek, Turkic and Tajik, among others. In the past the people in that country identified themselves by their ethnic background, not as Afghans. They did not have a history of working together, let alone trusting each other. As the U.S. Army works to build the Afghan Army they are working to change all that, giving a people a pride as a nation and a new found willingness to trust each other. Pride, trust, teamwork are just a few traits the U.S. military is working to instill in a people that they are also training to secure their nation. Read more from this DoD press release.

JALALABAD, Afghanistan, Aug. 13, 2004 – The Afghan National Army is more than just a security force for the nation; it is an example.
The army is one of the few unifying forces in this diverse nation that does not have many such forces. The country has many different ethnic backgrounds: Pashtun, Uzbek, Turkic and Tajik, among others.
Tribal loyalties also are strong, officials in Kabul said. Loyalty to family, tribe or clan and ethnic group has priority over national loyalty. "People here think of themselves as a Pashtu before they think of themselves as an Afghan," said an official. "In many cases, it is the only loyalty that they may have."
Developing capabilities that cross tribal and ethnic boundaries – while maintaining peace – is key to the success of the Afghan National Army and ultimately Afghanistan, officials said.
The country is not used to working together. In the past, the Afghan army was raised in various provinces and kept there. The units were made up of one ethnic entity and remained in that area.
During the Soviet invasion, the mujahedeen, or warriors, who fought against the occupation were ethnic or tribal based. Few groups worked together except under the direst need.
During the civil war that followed the Soviet pullout, militias for the ethnic groups destroyed whatever infrastructure was left.
When the Taliban fell, coalition officials were determined not to repeat the mistakes of the past.
From the start, the Afghan National Army has been integrated with all ethnic and tribal backgrounds. "We have people from all areas of the country and of all ethnic groups in each battalion," said Army Capt. Stephen Robinson, who is helping to train an ANA battalion. "People don't realize how important that is to all the population."
Another U.S. soldier agreed. "This is the one institution in the nation where your ethnic makeup is not paramount," he said. "It's like the U.S. Army in that regard: it's not what you are, but what you know and what you can do."
The soldier, who asked not to be identified, said it is a very interesting dynamic as he watches the various ethnic groups from the beginning of training to the end. "At the beginning, they are very suspicious of each other," he said. "Pashtu (recruits) watch Uzbeks, who watch Tajiks, and so on. Little by little, they gain respect for each other. What's more, they come to trust one another."
The units can be a Tower of Babel, however. Different ethnicities speak different languages and dialects. Pashtu, Dari, Uzbek and Urdu are the main languages the recruits speak. Few American trainers speak those languages. Good "terps," as the American soldiers call the interpreters, are employed to help bridge the linguistic gorge, Robinson said.
After months of training, the ANA units begin deploying to various parts of the country. The difference between the ANA and local militias is the first thing that stands out, said Army Sgt. 1st Class Brian Bedington, another trainer, who is from the Oklahoma National Guard.
Even the best-trained militia does not have the discipline of the ANA, Bedington said, and often the militias are the biggest criminals in the area. "We get a lot of complaints about the militias shaking down people," Bedington said. "That does not happen with the ANA. The ANA soldiers are even-handed. They don't have a dog in the fight at these places they are deployed to, and the people soon realize that."
The sergeant noted the people enjoy seeing the ANA soldiers arrive. "They know they will be protected," he said.
The ANA soldiers enjoy deploying. "They get two bucks extra a day," Bedington said with a laugh. "But what really pleases them is the respect the people show as they go to various parts of the country. I mean, the Afghans like to see American troops in areas because they know they will be protected. But when they see Afghan troops acting with the same professionalism as the Americans, their appreciation goes through the roof."
Americans accompany the ANA units on missions and say that the Afghans are cool under fire and capitalize on their training.
The biggest problem with the Afghan National Army right now is there are too few trained members. There are currently 15,000 fully trained soldiers in the ANA, said President Hamid Karzai recently. Officials at Combined Forces Command Afghanistan said the country needs 70,000 soldiers in the ANA.
"The long pole in the tent," said an American officer who would not release his name for security reasons, "is the leadership. It takes years to develop officers to command companies or battalions, and it takes years to develop a professional NCO corps." This officer said it didn't make sense to him to train soldiers if the officers and NCOs weren't ready to command them.
But Air Force Gen. Richard B. Myers, who visited Afghanistan Aug. 11 and said he understood the officer's concern, didn't think it was any time to slow down training. "In fact, most people agree it needs to be speeded up," Myers, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said in an interview. "What this means is that the ANA must be mentored by coalition units."
Myers said the training is important, but so is the equipment the units receive, the transportation, the pay and so forth. "You can do all that, but the government has to sustain it," he said.
The chairman said the ANA soldiers "continue to be respected wherever they go. They continue to do a good job operationally when asked to participate."
Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld spoke to members of the ANA undergoing training at a provincial reconstruction center in Jalalabad on Aug. 11. "From all the reports I have been receiving, the Afghan National Army has been doing a tremendous job," the secretary said through a translator. "Keep up the good work. Your country is worth fighting for."


Winners and Losers

While the American basketball team was out their embarrassing themselves, the Iraqi soccer team took another step closer to a gold medal, beating Costa Rica 2-0 in soccer. I'm rooting for the Iraqi's as much as the Americans. Check out losers blog for some cool pics and an Iraqi p.o.v. on the Olympics. I really hope the Iraqis win the gold, that would be awesome. They really need to find a safer way to celebrate things tho, other than shooting into the air.


Saturday, August 14, 2004

FF

It amazes me how many people go and see Fahrenheit 9/11 and just blindly believe everything they see. It's a movie folks, thats like going to see spider-man and leaving thinking you can climb walls and fall off buildings without getting hurt. I do urge all those that were deeply moved by that movie to go ahead and try all of spider-man's stunts. But if you would like a better look into all the lies contained in Fahrenheit go check out fahrenheit_fact


KORN

For those going to the Projekt Revolution tour featuring KORN, Snoop DoGG, and Linkin Park here in Dallas, the ticketmaster says it starts at 2, so I figure get there about 1. What else do you have to do that day, work? I dont think so. I'm pretty excited cuz I finally talked some people in to going with. I would not have missed it, but its always more fun with friends you know, instead of all the new ones you make there.
Hope to see you all there.

Here's the lineup, dont know the order till we get there:
mainstage
Linkin Park
Korn
Snoop Dogg
the Used
Less Than Jake

second stage
Mike V and the Rats
Ghostface
Funeral for a Friend
M.O.P.
Downset

All lawn is 37.50 All seats are 53.50


If you're riding with me, keep these things in mind:

No drugs, alcohol, smoking, or eating in my truck. If you want to do any of those things you can take your own vehicle.
I suggest you eat before we go.
Everybody has to wear their seatbelt. If you've ever ridden with me you understand.
You can take 1 unopened bottle of water into Smirnoff. No other food or drink allowed. Don't open it if you want to take it in.
I also suggest buying a drink and freezing it and leaving it in the truck for afterwards. Trust me, you'll want some gatorade when you get out.
Its gonna be an all day event, so bring extra money so you can buy food and drinks, and an ID if you wanna drink adult beverages.
If you smoke, bring some matches cuz they wont let you take a lighter in.
I will provide suntan lotion.
If you're going to the front I suggest wearing boots, steal toes if you got em. If you go to the pit you will get hit in the head a few times, but your toes will get stepped on constantly and after awhile it gets more painful than anything else.
Dont take anything you mind losing.
If you are a guy do not body surf, only assholes bodysurf. If you're a chick feel free, just dont land on my neck.




Beach Rules

Well the first Olympic sport I got to watch today was womens beach volleyball, since I slept till noon. What a great way to wake up in the morning. Anyway, USA USA USA beat Norway 2 straight in a best outta 3 game, with Norway serving out of bounds to give our girls their second win. The US girls were not serving great, but they were doing everything else splendidly. Anyway, speaking of the beach I thought I'd share a few things I learned when I was at the beach last week. I learned that not nearly enough cute 21 - 30 year old single girls hang out in Galveston. I learned that some men, despite all that has been written, still wear banana hammocks, no matter what their physique. I learned that mexican gangstas do in fact have a sense of humor, tho a delicate one. I learned that even in Galveston, people still try to talk to me in the bathroom. ( I hate that, why why why? Thats one of my pet peeves and will eventually earn its own post. ) I learned that great food and horrible service can go together. I learned that I could make it to Galveston in less than 4 hours if I had to. But of course, the things I always learn the best are how to get in trouble. So here is my list of
The Top Ten Ways To Get Kicked Off The Beach

10. Build a sand mermaid
then have sex with it

9. Buy one of those fighting kites
and kill all the other kites

8. Start a bonfire
with the rental chairs

7. Feed the seagulls
dynamite

6. Pee in the water
while only standing ankle deep

5. Take your dog to the beach
train him to crap on little kids sandcastles

4. Rent a cop uniform
hand out tickets to all the fat people and guys in banana hammocks

3. Offer to rub lotion on a cute girls back
use pudding instead (or cooking oil, whichever is funnier)

2. Steal one of those ice cream carts
sell nothing but "homestyle frozen lemonade"

1. Pretend to drown just to meet the cute lifeguard
demand mouth to mouth



Friday, August 13, 2004

Galveston revisited

A week ago today I went down to Galveston to spend the weekend. I think I'm finally getting over being bummed about having to return, so I figure I should write my review. I admit, Galveston isnt anything spectacular, but its better than work.
The trip down was a good one, as I made it in record time and every cop I passed either had somebody pulled over already or my radar detector saw first. Mostly the former as during day light hours I can usually spot them before my detector, but at night that baby saves me all the time. Anyway we got there in almost 4 hours exactly, so having travelled ~320 miles we averaged ~80 mph, which is pretty good considering we left at 5 o'clock. Like I said it was a pretty uneventful ride down, most people got out of my way and we eventually did pick up some friends once we got about 2 hours into it. By picking up friends I mean we found some other people that wanted to drive the same speed. I like not being the only one speeding, it just makes me more comfortable for some reason, even if I am in the lead. But if others want to race that's even better cuz I just let them lead and hang back at a safe distance. So anyway we pulled into the campsite a few minutes after 9 and paid for our site. Unfortunately all of the tent sites were sold out, so we got an R/V site. The R/V sites aren't on the beach, they're on the other side of the road, but they do have screened in shelters, so we were able to eat without being hassled by the bugs. I did take a lot of 100% deet bugspray, so they werent really bugging us. We cooked some steaks and veggies on the grill then sat up till after 3 in the morn just drinkin and talkin. It actually sprinkeled a little bit off and on for about an hour, but it was just enough to keep us cool while we set up our tents. By the time the food was ready it had stopped all together. The next morning I went and took a shower with the bugs and spiders while BigRay broke down his tent, then we switched. We had fruit and granola bars for breakfast, then packed up our stuff and headed toward the beach. We finally parked at Stewart beach and found a couple chairs to sit in. WARNING: do not ever do this. If you want to sit under the shade of an umbrella, take your own, they charged us $20 for 2 chairs and the umbrella, which is a pretty good deal for them, bad for us. But hey, its only money, and we definately wanted the option of shade. I put lotion on that morning but my back, which I didnt redo later was pretty red by the end of the day. We just pretty much chilled on the beach all day, occasionally getting up to cool off in the water, occasionally laying down on my towel to get some sun, then moving back to the shade when I got too hot. I took a soccer ball and volley ball and bocce balls, but he didnt want to do any of it, he was content relaxing in his chair. We did eventually play some beach bocce, which was pretty fun. Of course I won all but one game, but I think he still had fun. Around 5 we packed up our stuff and headed to the Hilton to check in. I've never been to a Hilton before, and I was pleasantly surprised. It had one of those bars in the pool that you could swim up to, a giant ass pool with a waterfall, and a hot tub. Those would all have to wait for later tho, it was dinner time. So after we both found our rooms and got cleaned up we met downstairs and headed off to get something to eat. We chose Fishtails, a seafood place about midway along the seawall. We had a 20 minute or so wait, so we got a couple drinks and hung out at the bar. We finally got a table on the upstairs patio overlooking the ocean. It was well worth the wait, the food was awesome and the drinks just as good. I had a couple margaritas and the broiled sampler. It was delicious, I highly recommend both, and I'm picky when it comes to my margaritas. The seafood was fresh and not overdone with its seasonings, and the margaritas were the perfect balance of sweet and alcoholicy. We got done around 8 and we decided to just go back to the hotel and chill. I got on my trunks and went down to the pool. Too late for the swim up bar, but I could still go inside to the bar and take it outside to the pool. So for the rest of the evening I alternated between doing laps in the pool and chillin in the hot tub. There were a lot of people down there, unfortunately it was all couples, no nice young girls for me to annoy. But I did meet some nice people and had a very enjoyable evening. I went up to my room around 11 when the pool closed and watched some tv for awhile, eating my leftovers with my fingers and making a general pig of myself. At some point I passed out. I woke up around 6 with the pink sunrise shining through my window. Not today God. I closed the blinds and went back to bed. I finally got up around 9, cleaned up, packed up, and took all my stuff down to the truck. Then I filled up my garbage can a couple times from the ice machine so I could refill the ice in my cooler. When that was all done I returned the bucket and garbage can to my room and went to check out the breakfast buffet. I called up BigRay and he came down and we ate and read the paper. Then it was off to East Beach. I lotioned up real good but still stayed under the shade most of the time as I already had a pretty good pink going on my back. I sat and read a book and he people watched. Around 3 oclock we moved up to the deck to listen to some crappy band and wait for the main event. At 4 oclock it was time for Mikki and her mates, the playboy playmate bubble bath contest. Not surprisingly, it was a big disappointment. There was no splashing or frolicking or ripping off of clothes, it was just 2 hours of "hey for 10 bucks come stand in this kiddie pool and get your picture taken with these 3 very typical playboy models." 2 blondes and 1 brunette. Yeah they were fine, and yeah they were barely staying in their swimsuits, but there were a couple girls just as fine around us. So after 2 hours of nothing exciting, we decided to take off. It was 6 oclock and I wanted to be home by midnight. We hopped in the truck, traded our sandy shorts for dry shorts, and headed off towards Houston, waving goodbye to Galveston till next time. After driving around in Houston for a few minutes we finally found the restaurant area and picked a mexican restaurant we'd never heard of before, which I now no longer remember the name of. I had a shrimp salad type thing that was pretty good, very fresh and flavorful. The service was good, unlike Fishtails, but it should have been, we were 1 of 2 tables in there. Eventually we hit the road again, so ending our trip to the beach. We made it home without incident, my radar detector went off a couple times, but I never saw anything. I think he was always on the other side of the road. I cruised at 80 most of the way home, and didnt pick up any friends till about an hour or so outside of Dallas. I dropped off BigRay and pulled into my house a few minutes before midnight. All in all it was a great trip. I cant wait to go back, hopefully next time we'll have a bigger group.


Space Olympics

Space.com has a cool zoom view satellite image of the Athens sports complex. Check it out

Thursday, August 12, 2004

FAMILY GUY!

I just saw that the Family guy will return to Fox next wednesday at 7pm central time, with a 2 hour marathon of 4 episodes picked by Seth Mcfarlane. They wont be new episodes yet, hopefully tho next week they'll have a new one. Woohooo!

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Rummy says

This is a definate must read. Its a guest column by Rummy in the Chicago Tribune where he touches on a little bit of everything. Nothing that hasnt necessarily been said before, but still good stuff.

From DoD news:

Ideological extremists can't be appeased, so they have to be confronted, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld wrote in a guest column published in today's Chicago Tribune.
"The phenomenon of ideological extremism -- of which terrorism is the weapon of choice -- stands in the way of global political progress and economic prosperity, threatens the stability of the international order and clouds the future of civil society," Rumsfeld wrote. "Because it cannot be appeased, it must be confronted on many fronts by all civil societies."
Terrorists took nearly 3,000 lives in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States, and would have killed far more if they had the capability, the defense secretary wrote. "This is a different kind of enemy and a different kind of world," Rumsfeld noted. "And we must think and act differently in this new century. The extremists think nothing of cutting off innocent people's heads to try to intimidate civilized people. They have murdered citizens from many countries -- South Korea, Japan, Spain, the United Kingdom and others -- hoping to strike fear in the hearts of free people."
Rumsfeld cited progress in Iraq since the fall of Saddam Hussein's regime. "Courageous leaders have stepped forward to lead their country and crack down on insurgents. Their economy is growing, their currency is strong and they've opened a stock market. More than 2,600 schools have been rehabilitated," he wrote.
"They have gone from zero to more than 200,000 Iraqi security force members. We have a good team helping the Iraqis develop their security forces, training them, equipping them and helping them set up a chain of command so they can assume responsibility for their country."
Afghanistan, he noted, is moving toward a free election this fall. "Despite the violence aimed at discouraging citizens, and particularly women, from registering to vote, more than 8 million people have already done so, including nearly 4 million women," he wrote. "Under the Taliban, women had virtually no rights at all."
The Afghan national army now has 13,000 soldiers, and more than 21,000 Afghans serve in the national police, the secretary noted. Construction of a major road linking major cities is well under way, he wrote, to unify the country and bolster its economy. Afghans have approved a new constitution that protects the rights of all Afghans, the secretary added.
In his guest column, Rumsfeld recalled a visit to Korea when that country's parliament was debating whether to send troops to Iraq. A Korean reporter asked him why Korean soldiers should go halfway around the world to be killed or wounded in Iraq.
"It was a fair question, one an American could have asked during the Korean War," Rumsfeld wrote. "That day, I had visited a war memorial in Korea that bore the names of every American soldier killed in the war. On it was the name of a close friend of mine from New Trier High School, a wrestling teammate named Dick O'Keefe, who was killed on the last day of the Korean War. I asked the reporter: 'Why should Americans have sent their young people to Korea?'"
Rumsfeld didn't wait for an answer. Instead, he urged the reporter to look out the window, where the city of Seoul lay below.
"The city was filled with lights and cars and energy and people, a robust economy that's just an economic miracle, and freedom," Rumsfeld wrote. "And I told the reporter that I kept a satellite photo, taken at night, of the Korean peninsula on a table in my office. North of the Demilitarized Zone, there is nothing but darkness, with one little pinprick of light in Pyongyang, the capital. In the south, the country is bathed in light, beacons of prosperity and freedom that 33,000 Americans and thousands of others gave their lives to protect."
Though it came at a terrible cost, Rumsfeld wrote, Korea's freedom was worth it – "just as it was worth it to liberate Germany, Japan and Italy."
The enemy in the global war on terror can't win militarily, but that doesn't mean the enemy can't win, Rumsfeld noted. "Terrorists cannot defeat our coalition on the battlefield; they can only win if we give up or decide the effort is not worth the cost," he wrote. "But if we stay the course, I have no doubt of our ultimate victory."

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Military Olympians

Here's a rundown of U.S. Military personel that will be taking part in the Olympics, which start in just a couple of days. One of the greatest things about our military is that not only does it protect our freedoms but it helps people discover talents they may not have known they had and nourishes and encourages them to be the best at anything they do.

"I hope to succeed on the water, but also to represent the Army, MWR and WCAP in a positive light and show the world that the U.S. is one of the better countries out there in rowing and in general – to show what freedom will do for you," Smith said. "It allows you to succeed."

WASHINGTON, Aug. 7, 2004 – Twenty-four military competitors will represent Team USA in the Summer Olympic Games at Athens, Greece, Aug. 13 through 29.
The Army is providing eight shooters, two modern pentathletes, a race walker, a rower, a wrestler, a marathoner who may double in the 10,000 meters, a head coach for boxing, a Greco-Roman wrestling coach, a rifle coach and a gunsmith for the world's largest sporting event. The Air Force will be represented by a hammer thrower, a race walker and a fencer. The Navy will provide a rower.

Spc. Hattie Johnson, a member of the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit from Athol, Idaho, will compete Aug. 14 in 10-meter air rifle shooting in the Summer Olympic Games at Athens, Greece. Photo by Tim Hipps(Click photo for screen-resolution image); high-resolution image available.
First Lt. Chad Senior, a member of the U.S. Army World Class Athlete Program, will compete Aug. 26 in modern pentathlon, a five-sport event that includes pistol shooting, fencing, swimming, equestrian riding and cross-country running.
Senior 29, of North Fort Myers, Fla., finished sixth in the event in the 2000 Olympics at Sydney, Australia. He was leading after three events before a skittish horse refused two jumps in the equestrian event, ruining his golden moment.
"I don't think the same thing can happen now; I'm a much stronger rider than I was in 2000," said Senior, who returned to the sport after 18 months of soul searching following his heartbreaker in Australia. "I just hope I can have the same day I had in Sydney, aside from the ride."
One day after Senior's grueling event, Army Capt. Anita Allen, 26, of Star City, Ind., will compete in the women's modern pentathlon.
Sgt. Oscar Wood, 29, an Army WCAP wrestler from Gresham, Ore., defeated five- time national champion and 2000 Olympian Kevin Bracken of New York Athletic Club in the finals of the 66-kilogram/145.5-pound Greco-Roman division of the U.S. Olympic Wrestling Team Trials to earn an Olympic berth. Wood, who will wrestle Aug. 24 and 25, will have another soldier in his corner. Staff Sgt. Shon Lewis, 37, of Oakland, Calif., is one of three Greco-Roman coaches for Team USA. He has led All-Army wrestlers to three of the past four Greco national team titles and has twice been named Greco-Roman Coach of the Year by USA Wrestling.
Army Staff Sgt. Basheer Abdullah, 41, of St. Louis, is the head coach for Team USA's boxers. He served as technical coach in the 2000 Sydney Games and will be assisted in Athens by Anthony Bradley, a retired Army master sergeant from Newport News, Va., and former WCAP coach who handled Abdullah during his career in the ring.
Capt. Matt Smith, 26, an Army WCAP rower from Woodbridge, Va., will team with civilians Steve Warner of Livonia, Mich., two-time Olympian Paul Teti of Upper Darby, Pa., and Cincinnati's Pat Todd on Team USA's lightweight four that begins rowing Aug. 15 with a chance to compete again Aug. 17, 19 and 21 in the B final or Aug. 22 in the A final.
"I hope to succeed on the water, but also to represent the Army, MWR and WCAP in a positive light and show the world that the U.S. is one of the better countries out there in rowing and in general – to show what freedom will do for you," Smith said. "It allows you to succeed."
Team USA also will feature Navy Ensign Henry Nuzum, 27, a two-time Olympian from Chapel Hill, N.C., who will team with Aquil Abdullah of Washington, D.C., in men's double sculls. They begin rowing Aug. 16 with the A final Aug. 22.
Oregon National Guard Capt. Dan Browne, 29, of Portland, Ore., qualified for the Olympics by finishing third in the U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials with a time of 2 hours, 12 minutes and 2 seconds. He will run the marathon, the final competitive event of the Games, Aug. 29.
Browne, a West Point graduate and former member of Army's WCAP, secured a second Olympic berth by finishing third in the 10,000 meters with a time of 28:07.47 in the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Team Trials at Sacramento, Calif. Should he decide to double in Greece, Browne will run the 10K Aug. 20.
Army Sgt. John Nunn, 26, of Evansville, Ind., earned an Olympic berth with a second-place finish in the 20-kilometer race walk with a time of 1:26:23 in the U.S. Track and Field Team Trials. Air Force Capt. Kevin Eastler, 26, a missile combat crew commander stationed at F.E. Warren Air Force Base in Cheyenne, Wyo., also made the team by finishing third in 1:28:49. They will compete Aug. 20.
Also in track and field, Air Force 1st Lt. James Parker, 28, a native of Great Falls, Mont., stationed at Malmstrom Air Force Base in his home state, will throw the hammer in qualifying rounds Aug. 20 with the final Aug. 22. Parker won the event in the U.S. Track and Field Team Trials with a throw of 77.58 meters -- 254 feet, 6 inches -- and will be the only American in the field.
Air Force 2nd Lt. Weston "Seth" Kelsey, 22, of Santa Monica, Calif., will fence in men's individual epee Aug. 17 and team epee Aug. 22. Kelsey, a 2003 graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy, is a two-time national champion.
Army Reserve Maj. David Johnson, 40, a native of Mount Holly, N.J., who lives in Colorado Springs, Colo., is a WCAP shooting coach and 15-year member of the U.S. National Rifle Team who competed in the 1992 Barcelona Games. He will serve as Team USA's rifle coach Aug. 14 through 22 at Markopoulo Olympic Shooting Centre.
Four-time Olympian Sgt. 1st Class James "Todd" Graves, 41, of Laurel, Miss., became the first U.S. men's skeet shooter since 1984 to win an Olympic medal with a bronze in the 2000 Sydney Games. He will compete Aug. 22.
"I'm doing this for my family in green and I've decided that if I get a medal this time that I'm going to dedicate it to the troops," Graves said. "Every time I break a target or stand on a podium to get a medal, I'm dedicating it to all those guys and gals over there. That's the least I can do."
Sgt. 1st Class Shawn Dulohery, 39, a world champion from Lee's Summit, Mo., downed 25 consecutive targets in the final round to edge Graves in the men's skeet competition in the U.S. Olympic Shotgun Team Trials at Fort Benning, Ga., home of the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit. "Hopefully in Athens, we'll both bring something of color home," Dulohery said. "Just going through it together is going to be a big plus."
Two-time Olympian Sgt. 1st Class Bret Erickson, 43, of Bennington, Neb., will compete in men's trap and double trap shotgun shooting Aug. 14 and 17, respectively.
Sgt. 1st Class Jason Parker, 30, a world record-holder from Omaha, Neb., finished fifth in air rifle at the Sydney Games, missing a bronze medal by seven-tenths of a point. He seeks redemption Aug. 16.
Maj. Michael Anti, a USAMU member attached to WCAP who recently won a national championship, will compete in 50-meter prone and 50-meter three-position rifle shooting Aug. 20 and 22 respectively.
Three-time Olympian Army Reserve Staff Sgt. Elizabeth "Libby" Callahan, 52, of Upper Marlboro, Md., will compete Aug. 15 in 10-meter air pistol and Aug. 18 in 25-meter sport pistol. She is the oldest member of Team USA.
Spc. Hattie Johnson, 22, of Athol, Idaho, will compete Aug. 14 in women's 10- meter air rifle, the first event of the Games. Sgt. 1st Class Daryl Szarenski will compete later that day in men's 10-meter air pistol shooting.
Army Sgt. 1st Class Charles Gartland, 39, of Bardstown, Ky., will serve as Team USA's gunsmith.



Progress

Here's a little taste of some good news from Iraq, examples of the real reason we are in Iraq, to help a people build a better nation for their children.


WASHINGTON, Aug. 7, 2004 – News releases from Multinational Force Iraq today detailed continuing progress in the Iraq rebuilding effort.
Soldiers from the 13th Corps Support Command joined local sheiks and community leaders to open a new primary school in Bu-Hassan, near Balad, today. The 29th Signal Battalion from Fort Lewis, Wash., sponsored the construction of the Al Salam School, which was built from the ground up in about six months. The Army provided about $80,000 for construction, but members of the community and local contractors did the planning and work.
The school is one of more than 30 local infrastructure and water projects being managed by the 13th Corps Support Command civil affairs staff. Since January, the command has spent more than $2.7 million to improve local schools, clinics and irrigation systems.
Over the course of the last nine months, multinational forces have worked with community leaders throughout the Ninevah to provide more than $15 million in education, health care, construction and infrastructure improvements for the people of northern Iraq. Commander's Emergency Relief Program funds are available to Multinational Force Iraq units and leaders to help local communities create the infrastructure necessary to sustain a democratic society.
Almost one-third of the CERP funding, $5 million, was spent to improve security in the region and to equip security forces, including the police and National Guard. Money was spent to purchase medical supplies for the Iraqi National Guard, firefighting equipment for Mosul firefighters, safety equipment for correctional officers at the Mosul regional prison and equipment for the Mosul police department.
Education projects made up another large part of the total funding, officials said. Multinational forces helped rebuild and repair schools and colleges in the Ninevah region. Projects included repairs and renovations to the Tal Keif School, Al Kafaat School, Al Zuhor Secondary School, Al Hadba University College, Mosul Technical College and Mosul Jadeda Vocational School. Soldiers from the 416th Civil Affairs Battalion began a $1.4 million project to replace 20 mud-hut schools in rural villages with concrete buildings that will be complete by the time school starts in September. They have also purchased supplies for school custodial workers in Mosul.
Three Ninevah hospitals have been renovated. The Al Gogjaly Medical Clinic received $13,000 for repairs to the plumbing, doors and windows and for a new generator. The Ibn Alathyr maternity and pediatric hospital received renovations to its existing facilities as well as the addition of a teaching facility. The Ibn Sinna Hospital received repairs to its 25-person patient elevator.
Ninevah's agricultural sector received funding for a soil analysis laboratory, the first to be built in Iraq. The country's first artificial insemination lab for cattle and sheep will also be built in Ninevah. The Fayda grain elevator is being remodeled to serve farmers in northern Iraq, eventually storing approximately 30,000 metric tons of grain. CERP funding also bought foot-and- mouth disease vaccines, provided to local farmers at no cost, for the region's sheep and cattle.
A Ninevah business center and small business loan program were created to stimulate economic growth in northern Iraq by supporting entrepreneurship and small businesses.
About $3 million was spent to improve the water and sewer conditions in the northern region. New wells and water lines were built at 55 sites throughout the region, and new sewage pipes were placed throughout Mosul to improve sanitary conditions for city residents.
Extensive renovations are in progress at the Qayyarah oil refinery in northern Iraq, which had sat in disrepair since the Iran/Iraq war. About $300,000 has been spent to make the refinery a productive industry in the Qayyarah area. It eventually will employ 450 workers, stimulating the local economy, and produce 400 tons of asphalt daily to repair miles of roads in the region. It will be the largest asphalt-producing plant in the Middle East.
Soldiers from the 133rd Engineer Battalion are working in the Dianyah region of northern Iraq, repairing roads, schools, municipal facilities and Iraqi Border Patrol forts. This project is ongoing and will cost about $200,000.

Are you #%&* joking me?

Cuz I made a crack reference earlier, and I know canadians love me because of a previous post, I just had to comment on this article. According to Foxnews, a Vancouver advocacy group called The Rock Users Group wants the Canadian health system to pay for crack houses (i'm guessing because most crack heads eventually become homeless.) listen to this sob story : Says the leader of the group: “Right now, on the street, if you’re carrying a pipe and you’re not smoking it, you get roughed up by the police. That shouldn’t happen.” So when you're carrying a pipe but you are smoking it, you dont get roughed up?
You're right, they shouldnt be roughed up, they should be thrown in jail and left there for a few years while undergoing treatment, performing hard labor to pay their dues. If they show no remorse or desire to change, burn them for fuel. Its pretty cold up in Canada and I'm betting the heating bills can get pretty high (ha ha, i said high). Apparently the Canadian government already funds safe houses for smack addicts, why not crack addicts say the proponents. Now I understand that Canada really sucks and all, and if you are too much of a pussy to play hockey and too lazy to move to the US (dont try, we dont want you) you might not have anything better to do than smoke crack, but is it really fair to expect the government to pay for your crack, your supplies, and a place to do it? Maybe we could give the crack heads and the smack heads houses in the same neighborhood and they could start a turf war and kill each other off. Or the government could agree to give them free crack and smack and just make it so strong it kills them. Then its no more worries about high oil prices for Canada.

Sacred Cow Burgers

If you've never heard of this site, go check it out. Not only is this guy witty but he's hella talented with Photoshop.

Here's one of my favorites


Monday, August 09, 2004

For Chris

Jennifer over at A Collection of Thoughts today, as always, has a lot of great posts. I regret that I havent visited her in so long.

Justice

As you may have heard by now the Iraqi government has announced the resumption of punishment by execution for certain crimes. Included in these are the crimes of drug commerce and kidnapping. I hope this is a deterrent to atleast some of the kidnappers, as it is a much more prevalant problem than is reported. It seems that it is only reported when foreigners get kidnapped, but really anyone that has any money is in danger of being kidnapped for ransom. I hope the Iraqi government comes down hard on all offenders to send a message that tyranny will no longer be tolerated.

Conservative Texas Blogger

Finally found a conservative female blogger on the DFW Blogs site (seems like most people I've checked out so far are lefties)

Check out The Greatest Jeneration.

Looks like she's a redhead too, so she must be cool



The Real Story

Check out MY WAR's account of the recent events in Mosul and the surrounding areas for the real story of whats been going on the last couple days. Read as many posts as you can, you'll be glad you did.


Fun Facts: El Salvador

El Salvador achieved independence from Spain in 1821 and from the Central American Federation in 1839. A 12-year civil war, which cost about 75,000 lives, was brought to a close in 1992 when the government and leftist rebels signed a treaty that provided for military and political reforms.

mostly mountains with narrow coastal belt and central plateau.

known as the Land of Volcanoes; frequent and sometimes very destructive earthquakes and volcanic activity; extremely susceptible to hurricanes.

smallest Central American country and only one without a coastline on Caribbean Sea .

* info courtesy of the CIA factbook, which you can find to the right under My Links

Honoring El Salvador

Highlights from DoD News:
In early April, the illegal militia of Muqtada al Sadr attacked a 16-member El Salvadoran squad. The Salvadoran troops fought until they ran out of ammunition and then fought with knives, said Pardo-Maurer. They held on until coalition forces broke through. One soldier was killed and several wounded in the hand-to-hand fighting. "They are very high-quality soldiers," he said.

Twenty years ago, El Salvador was going through its own version of hell. The country was wrecked by a civil war. El Salvador is now a democracy and has adopted a free trade policy. The military is under civilian control. "Now the country is an exporter of security," Pardo-Maurer said.

Whole Article:

El Salvador to Continue Iraq Deployment
By Jim GaramoneAmerican Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, July 22, 2004 – El Salvador has "reupped" and will continue its deployment in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, DoD officials said today.
El Salvador has had infantry and special forces personnel in Iraq since August 2003. The unit is part of the Multinational Division Central/South.
El Salvador is actually increasing its commitment. The country is sending 380 soldiers to Iraq, up from 360. "Given the size of the country and the size of the armed forces, this is a significant commitment," said Roger Pardo-Maurer, the deputy assistant defense secretary for Western Hemisphere affairs.
El Salvadoran troops first went to Iraq as part of a Central American battalion. Troops from Honduras, Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic were part of the Spanish-led brigade. The Salvadoran troops provided security in the city of Najaf. "They performed 'shrine security,'" Pardo-Maurer said.
It was there that they distinguished themselves. In early April, the illegal militia of Muqtada al Sadr attacked a 16-member El Salvadoran squad. The Salvadoran troops fought until they ran out of ammunition and then fought with knives, said Pardo-Maurer. They held on until coalition forces broke through. One soldier was killed and several wounded in the hand-to-hand fighting. "They are very high-quality soldiers," he said.
The troops now work with U.S. forces in the area, and will probably stay in the same location for the next deployment.
Twenty years ago, El Salvador was going through its own version of hell. The country was wrecked by a civil war. El Salvador is now a democracy and has adopted a free trade policy. The military is under civilian control. "Now the country is an exporter of security," Pardo-Maurer said.


Afgani:Opium::Iraq:Crack

In a surprise boon for the Iraqi tourism board, millions of drug addicted inner city youth all across America booked flights today for Iraq. Apparently they were motivated to visit the war-torn country after reading a report today that was entitled "Rumsfeld 'Convinced' Iraq Has 'Good Crack' ..." Unfortunately for the concentrated coke fans who suffer from an extremely short attention span caused by their drug use, they failed to finish reading the title which ended with "... at Bright Future."
When asked what they thought about this apparent misunderstanding, the befuddled youth said "say man, got any crack? how bout a couple bucks."

Here's the real story from the DoD newswire, or newswar, depending on where yall are from.

WASHINGTON, Aug. 9, 2004 -- Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said today he is "absolutely convinced that the 25 million people of Iraq have a good crack at succeeding and building a bright future."
The secretary said there is good and bad news out of Iraq, but lamented that good news stories "are apparently not as newsworthy, and they seem not to make the press."
He ran through a list of successes to date in Iraq, citing schools being open and hospitals and clinics seeing patients as examples.
"The Iraqi people are free and are moving towards an election for the first time in decades," he said. "The economy is growing. … Refugees are coming home; we do not have a humanitarian crisis or internally displaced people."
Other specific examples of Iraq's success include:
Fielding an Olympic team "which is quite a thing if one thinks about it," Rumsfeld said;
Fashioning a symphony orchestra; and
Starting a stock market, "not with a lot of companies on it yet," Rumsfeld said. "But it's there, and it's growing."
Rumsfeld's remarks came outside the Pentagon during a media availability with Danish Minister of Defense Soren Gade.
The two men discussed operations in Iraq and the broader war on terrorism. Denmark has about 500 troops serving in Iraq and has been a staunch ally in the war on terrorism. It was the first country to announce it would not pull troops out of Iraq after Spain withdrew its forces following a March 11 terrorist attack in Madrid, a Defense Department spokesman said.
"We are committed in the fight against terror. We have a job to do in Iraq, and we are going to stay in Iraq," Gade said. "We have a mandate from the Danish Parliament up to the end of this year, and then it hopefully will be renewed."
The minister also expressed his sympathy for America's losses in Iraq. "But I also know that we all have to sacrifice because we have this war going on and we have to win it," he said. "We cannot allow the terrorists to win."

Thursday, August 05, 2004

sitemeting

alright i started this post a while ago then my browser crashed, so this isnt going to be as great as the first time around, but here we go.
I was checking out my sitemeter and I thought I would share some of the searches that people do that lead them to my site, because its kinda funny and kinda like people watching to see what people are looking for. so here in no particular order, are my search engine referrals:

flava flav - #9 on google - he is the overwhelming winner, at more than 10 hits from searches for his name. there was more but i stopped counting at 10. i just wanna know who is searching for flava flav and why? if you are one of those people, please email me as I am very curious.

chipwich - #26 on google - thats my kinda person, but what would prompt one to do a search for chipwiches on the internet? is some poor soul overcome by their need for that ice-creamy chocolate chippity goodness but unable to escape their cell to go to the store and get one, and their only hope is to order a whole caseload through the wonder of the internet? Call me if you need help eating those, I've found after like 10 they get kinda filling.

rough edges dvd - #1 on yahoo baby

chimp fajitas - #5 on yahoo - it pays to steal from the onion


More Iraqi Police

654 new Iraqi police officers will hit the streets within the week.
I thought about saying something about I wonder how many of those will be good guys and how many will be corrupt, then I thought, probably about the same ratio as in the US. Iraq is under such a microscope where every little thing is being scrutinized and all the negatives are being emphasized, especially from the left, that I think most people seem to forget that we arent perfect either. No country is. I know some will use that as a reason as to why we shouldnt have gone over their in the first place, we should make our country perfect first before we start helping other countries escape leaders who rule by fear and oppression, but I'm not going into that right now. I think for that country to have come as far as it has in one year, with so many good people working and fighting and risking their lives daily just to make their country a better place while common criminals, which every country has, work to destroy any kind of progress, aided and glorified by our own media, I think its just amazing. Call me crazy, and I know you will if you do nothing but watch your nightly news and fail to see all the good things and all the good people that are working together to make the progress that is intentionally overlooked and ignored, but I think what is happening over there is remarkable. Most Iraqis probably have more grit and guts and determination and faith and hope then most Americans do, and thats dispicable. It's dispicable because we, as Americans are spoiled, but yet we whine and complain and armchair quarterback everything that happens around us without ever being, for the most part, in any real danger. We, that means you and me, take our freedoms for granted, we take everything we have for granted. Then when our President and our military says that we are going to stand up for a people that needs our help, we are going to spread the freedoms that we so thanklessly enjoy but which are God given and a right for all peoples, well some people would rather find all the reasons they can imagine to keep that from happening. Terrorist cells all over the world had 8 years to grow and plot while there was a democrat in the white house they knew, proven by Somolia, would do nothing to stop them. I pray to God that wont be allowed to happen again. I know Bushy aint the brightest bulb, but I think he will continue to take it to the terrorists whereas JK has promised to reduce troop strength in foreign countries and work on mending relationships with other countries and the big joke that is the UN, all things that I think will only make us vulnerable to more attacks. If you're an illusionary peace lovin head in the dirt higher taxes lovin idiot, vote democrat. If you want results and the peace of mind of knowing that our troops are kickin ass 24/7 around the globe, keepin the terrorists on the run and the dictators up at night, vote GW. For me its as simple as that. Now, if you're not too tired from that, read this news from the DoD about the new Iraqi police graduates. It also talks about Iraq's new SWAT team:

American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Aug. 4, 2004 - Within the week, 654 Iraqis will graduate from police academies and join the ranks of those striving to secure their country.
After their graduation from Iraqi Police Service basic training on Aug. 5, 552 recruits will report to duty stations in Baghdad.
The ceremony comes at the conclusion of eight weeks of basic training. Coalition military police taught recruits the fundamental policing skills, techniques and ideals of law enforcement employed in a free society.
The Iraqi Police Service's Adnon Police Training Facility also will hold a graduation for 74 officers this week. They will have completed courses in basic criminal investigation, criminal intelligence and police internal controls. These three courses augment the basic training courses Iraqi police officers receive as recruits. The specialized courses are part of the Iraqi government's ongoing effort to train its police forces to provide security in a free Iraq, officials said.
Additionally, 28 Iraqi Police Service officers will graduate from the elite Emergency Response Unit training in a ceremony to be held at an undisclosed location.
Multinational Force Iraq officials said the coalition has assisted in the training to help the Iraqi government stand up an elite 270-man Iraqi Police Service unit trained to respond to national-level law enforcement emergencies. The recruits first must complete basic police training, or a shorter transition integration program for prior-service officers, before entering the eight-week special-weapons-and-tactics-type training.
The specialized training prepares the recruits to handle terrorist incidents, kidnappings, hostage negotiations, explosive ordnance disposal and other similar situations. The unit will be the main responding force for incidents requiring DELTA/SWAT capabilities and will only be used in extreme situations, officials said.
Also this week, two Iraqi army battalions, each with a separate mission, deployed to Baghdad. The Iraqi Intervention Forces' 4th Battalion was deployed to the southern part of the city for stability and support operations.
"It's a significant development," said the Coalition Military Training Assistance Team chief of staff, Army Col. Jim Mulvenna. "This is now one of three Iraqi battalions being employed in the Baghdad area of operations."
The unit had previously spent several months at the Taji Military Training Base north of Baghdad in special military operations and urban terrain training. The Intervention Force is the branch of the army specifically trained in counterinsurgency operations.
Lead elements of the Iraqi army's 5th Battalion deployed to a base in the western portion of the city for force protection operations.
This unit had previously trained at the Kirkush Military Training Base east of Baghdad. It joins two Intervention Force battalions there since July, and will work with coalition forces at the base in force protection, perimeter security and security operations outside the post.
"They're here to continue the forward movement of trained battalions and provide security for those units coming to train," Mulvenna said. "Iraqi forces are providing the lion's share of force protection to Iraqi bases, enabling the ongoing, effective generation of well-trained Iraqi battalions."


Standing em up and pushin em back

As expected the Iraqi security forces are maturing and growing more adept at fighting the anti-Iraqi terrorists and criminals which plague their nation. The ING, ISF and Iraqi police departments are taking the fight to the terrorists and repelling the attacks that are brought against them and innocent civilians. Here's more from today's DoD news:

Iraqi Forces Respond to Attacks in Mosul
American Forces Press Service
MOSUL, Iraq, Aug. 4, 2004 - Iraqi police and Iraqi National Guard soldiers here responded quickly today to a series of coordinated attacks targeting police, ING and multinational forces that left at least 14 Iraqi citizens dead and 31 wounded.
No Iraqi security forces or multinational forces were killed in the attacks.
Iraqi security forces repelled all of the attacks, killing eight terrorists and capturing two others who are being held by Iraqi police pending further investigation.
Multinational forces served in a supporting role, providing additional support where and when the Iraqi leaders involved in the attacks requested it.
The speedy response by ISF returned stability to the city and earned the governor's praise for their success stopping the attacks, Multinational Force Iraq officials said. "What has happened today, destruction by burglars and criminals, this proves that they are not real Iraqis," said Ninevah province Gov. Duraid Kashmoula. "The Iraqi police, the National Guard and the Facilities Protective Service personnel faced them and killed or arrested many of them."
During their response, police confiscated a large cache of weapons that contained rocket-propelled grenades, rifles, mortars, explosives and munitions.
The attacks occurred over a three-hour period and began at about 11:30 a.m. when terrorists fired on the Al Karama police station in eastern Mosul. No damage or injuries were reported in that incident. At about 1 p.m., an Iraqi police patrol was engaged with small-arms fire and RPGs in southern Mosul. The police returned fire and reported no injuries in that incident.
Attackers also attempted to disrupt the power and health care system in the city by attacking the Mosul Power Plant and the Al Jahmouri hospital in west- central Mosul with small-arms fire and RPGs.
Kashmoula imposed a citywide curfew that began at 3 p.m. today and will last until 6 a.m. Aug. 5. In an evening address to the people of Ninevah province, the governor stressed the need for calm.
"I am asking from you, my beloved people of Mosul, to stay calm and do not be afraid, because we will do our best to stop anyone who might bother you," Kashmoula said.
Terrorists are targeting security forces as well as facilities that provide for the health and well being of citizens of Mosul. These attacks underscore the desperation of terrorists in their attempts to halt the progress of democracy and prosperity in Iraq, coalition military officials said.
Since the transfer of sovereignty on June 28, Iraqi Security Forces continue to assume the majority of the responsibility for maintaining the overall security of the region, they added.

Quincy coker

So the Cowboys got rid of their quarterback Quincy Carter today because he came up positive for cocaine on a drug test. *Gasp*, a Dallas Cowboy who loves coke? I've never heard of such a thing. Well that would certainly explain why he sucks so bad so often. And for those that dont know, coke leaves your system pretty quickly, like in 1-3 days, so the fact that he tested positive probably means he's an addict and didnt just happen to get tested after a rare ride on the white pony. The messed up thing is the NFL rules only say a player should miss a game or two for what is otherwise considered a crime outside of the celebrity world, but the Cowboys decided they didnt need that kind of thing going on. Good for them. If only all the professional drug addicts were kicked off their teams and forced to steal for their drug money like lesser unfamous drug addicts.

Tuesday, August 03, 2004

dawn 1 Posted by Hello

lone tree hill Posted by Hello

DoD News

One word: Jolt Gum

Experts Develop Future Food for Future Warriors
By Phil CopelandAmerican Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Aug. 3, 2004 -- The Defense Department's Combat Feeding program at the U.S. Army Soldier System Center in Natick, Mass., is a "one-stop shop for all combat-rations development, field food-service equipment and total combat feeding systems," according to the Defense Department's combat-feeding director.

Two pieces of the new "Jolt" caffeine energy gum are equal to a cup of coffee for U.S. warriors in the battlefield to help sustain a high energy level. This gum is included as part of the prototype "First Strike" rations that provide highly mobile ground troops with total eat-on-the-move capability.
Gerald Darsch said the joint-service program is an effort to provide not only the appropriate types and distribution of food needed by the military services, but also to supply food products to astronauts at the International Space Station.
Combat rations and their distribution have improved considerably over the last five to seven years, Darsch said. The Combat Feeding program elicits "what soldiers like to eat and what they don't like to eat. All of the rations are soldier requested, soldier tested, soldier approved."
When servicemembers ask for a certain food item, such as Spanish rice or Thai chicken, food specialists develop recipes that will meet the request.
Test panels are randomly selected to evaluate recipes during development. Once a recipe is finished, it is field tested with soldiers to ensure the goal is met.
One type of ration, the Meal, Ready-to-Eat, or MRE, is currently used by the military to sustain individuals in the field until an organized food facility is established. At present, mobile troops, who may not have much time to eat, take out only certain food components from the MRE rations. "They leave up to 50 percent of the unused portion behind, only to be thrown away," Darsch noted.
The prototype "First Strike" ration program provides highly mobile ground troops with total eat-on-the-move capability. He said the idea is to provide a single ration per day containing only food items that are easy to use and consume.
Recently, both the Marines and Army soldiers have requested First Strike rations developed by the Combat Feeding program.
"The Marines have asked for these rations to use in Afghanistan and Iraq," Darsch said. "(The Army's) 1st Cavalry Division in Iraq has also requested to try these rations for their soldiers." Both services said it would provide a capability they really don't have, he added.
Darsch said this ration package includes a pocket sandwich with a three-year shelf life at room temperature, developed by the Army Soldier Center. This sandwich is a good idea for those who can't take a microwave or refrigerator out in the field, he added.
"We put three zip-lock bags in with the rations, so the person can break it up into three separate meals and easily store unused portions in the uniform pockets, wherever is most comfortable and fits the best," he explained. "The beverage mix included with the rations is in a flexible package so you can reconstitute it right in the package and consume it directly from the package."
Tube food, another type of ration, has been provided for the Air Force's U-2 long-range surveillance aircraft pilots during their reconnaissance flights. According to Air Force officials, the U-2 is the most difficult aircraft to fly because of its unusually challenging takeoff and landing characteristics. Due to its high-altitude mission, pilots must wear full pressure suits.
The Combat Feeding program, in a joint effort with the Air Force Research Lab, developed two foods that actually enhance the pilots' cognitive performance.
After the pilots have been flying their aircraft for a long period of time, they can become lethargic and sluggish when they try to land. Darsch explained that adding a certain naturally occurring food ingredient to the tube foods ensures a safe landing.
The Natick research center also has launched a robust program to upgrade food- distribution systems for the Navy fleet. Darsch described how they recently used a new modular process to install a piece of food-distribution equipment on two Los Angeles-class submarines.
In the past, crewmembers would have had to cut up the equipment deckside and lower in the pieces one at a time through a 30-inch hatch and reassemble all of those pieces down in the galley, he said. This old process required up to 500 man-hours. And once everything was put back together, it didn't always work or didn't work as well as intended.
The Combat Feeding program worked with a commercial company to come up with equipment designed and built in modules.
"The new idea is to lower the modules down through the hatch and then put the pieces together again, like LEGOs, in the galley," Darsch said. "This now reduces the 500 man-hours down to a possible less than 75 man-hours to complete this task. And now, everything works the way it is supposed to work."
The bottom line, he concluded, is that the Combat Feeding program covers the gamut of everything required for feeding the armed forces "from deep sea to deep space."

i made a couple movie posters for the front of a theater i was building for work, so i figured i'd share them  Posted by Hello

DoD News

Expanding a girls school in Afghanistan because so many girls are now attending school, for the first time.

AIBAT KHILE, Afghanistan, July 29, 2004 –– According to Islamic law, learning is the duty of all Muslims -- including women and girls.
But for the past few decades, girls here have not been allowed to go to school and learn like boys have. During both Soviet and Taliban rule, girls' schools were burned, and women and girls weren't allowed to work or go to school.
Army Lt. Col. James Anderson, Facility Engineer Team-17 commander, lays a cornerstone in the foundation of a school that was funded by Bagram Base Operations and the team. Photo by Pfc. Cheryl Ransford, USA(Click photo for screen-resolution image)
Now that the coalition is here to help the people of Afghanistan stabilize their country, getting girls back in school is one of the top priorities for the Afghan people. Coalition officials are working with village elders in Aibat Khile to improve the learning environment for the girls who are starting to go back to school.
The groundbreaking ceremony for Aibat Khile Girls School was held July 15. "As the number of children in the village grows, so does the number of students," said Gen. Maulano, a local mujahedeen commander. "There will be 600 girls attending Aibat Khile Girls School when the construction is done."
The construction of the school is expected to take one month, said Maulano. "Although there are other girls' schools in the area, the number of girls going to school calls for expanding the current site of Aibat Khile Girls School," said Lt. Col. James Anderson, Facility Engineer Team-17 commander.
Currently, classes are being held in rooms with dirt floors and no lights, he said. Recognizing the need for improvements at the school, members of the coalition began planning the new school with the village elders and Zarar, the district governor, about a month and a half ago.
"The people in the village have been very helpful during the planning stages of the school," said Anderson. "By the time the groundbreaking was held, most of the supplies needed for the building of the school were already at the site."
During the groundbreaking ceremony, Zarar had Anderson, as well as two of the students who will be attending the school, lay the cornerstones in the foundation.
"This is a very great day for this area," said Zarar. "When the school is built, more of the children in the area will be able to learn."
Maulano was happy to see the cooperation between the coalition and the local community. "It is good for the people to see the relationship between the coalition and the elders, so they too will learn to trust the soldiers," he said. "The soldiers have made it possible for the school to be built and the girls to go to school and learn."
Maulano said he has a dream for his people and hopes that with the interaction and help of the coalition it will come true. "I want the girls to be educated, dedicated and able to live their own lives," said Maulano.
"Everyone has the right to do whatever they want in life," he continued. "The girls should have the right to be doctors, nurses, teachers, pilots or whatever else they might choose to be, just like the boys."
Before the Soviets and Taliban ruled, the women and girls lived very different lives, he said. And as improvements such as rebuilding schools continue to be made, the Afghan people may be able to regain that way of life once again.
"Without education a nation is nothing," said Maulano. "The girls are a part of this country and should have the right to add to the future of it by having the same education as the boys."
(Pfc. Cheryl Ransford is a member of the 17th Public Affairs Detachment.)

DoD News

Improving schools in Afghanistan

Logistics Soldiers Improve Afghan School
By Spc. Claudia Bullard, USASpecial to American Forces Press Service
NEW SALO KALAY, Afghanistan, July 29, 2004 -- For members of Maj. Daniel Wilson's logistics shop, serving in Afghanistan means working mainly within the confines of Kandahar Airfield, making sure the members of Task Force Bronco have everything they need to successfully complete their missions.
Army 2nd Lt. Jason Johnson, left, and Sgt. 1st Class Michael Noye build benches for a village school at New Salo Kalay, Afghanistan. Photo by Spc. Claudia Bullard, USA
So when the opportunity to improve conditions at a local school presented itself, Wilson and nine members of his team jumped at the chance to "get outside the wire."
The team's mission was to build a wooden floor and benches for a one-room school at New Salo Kalay, just outside Kandahar Airfield. The children had been sitting on a dirt floor with few school materials. Moved by their situation, Wilson wrote a letter home to obtain supplies from friends and family.
Wilson said he believes soldiers need an opportunity to understand why they're here and that both parties will benefit from the project. Not only do the students get some badly needed improvements to their school, but also his soldiers get a chance to make a stronger connection with local people.
"My soldiers sit inside all day," said Wilson, who stressed that though their work is vitally important, it is sometimes hard to see how it affects the Afghan people. "Their morale tends to drop. Getting them out doing a project like this reminds them what they are here for."
Once on the ground, village elder Hay Atullah and teacher Agha Jan greeted the team warmly. A gentle-spoken young man in his 20s, Jan said he gave up teaching for three years during the Taliban's harsh rule. Through the team's interpreter, Jan said he was "feeling very good" about the improvements. "Our government is so poor," said Jan. "We are very appreciative."
Jan said that during the Taliban rule there was no education in English and science, and children "got an education inside the house" from their fathers. The unity of villages was affected because of the cancellation of classes. Afghan schools are much like schools in rural America, which are often a center point for the community.
"We're really glad you are here," said Jan. "We are glad the Taliban is gone."
With the help of the village men, the team unloaded materials and equipment. Capt. Marek Ludyjan and Sgt. Jonathon Swigert set up the generator and a compound miter saw, while Afghan men and children gathered to watch Spc. David Fifeld cut the lumber.
Pfc. Sara Grotke, who was sitting with a group of boys pulling nails from their packaging, said she understands that her work in the logistics shop is essential to the mission in Afghanistan but was eager to volunteer because she felt like she was actually "doing something."
Grotke, who had previously gone out with a unit to search villages, said this mission was strictly to win hearts and minds. "The other mission I went on was more tactical. We searched for anti-tank weapons, (rocket-propelled grenades) and so forth," she said. "This time we're getting to know the villagers. Last time the village men were all in one place waiting for us to search their village. They were pretty tense. The difference here is, these villagers are getting to know us."
Nearby, 2nd Lt. Jason Johnson, assistant logistics officer, was building benches. "I was quite happy to come," said Johnson. "I was glad to get out here and do something positive." He said this day would be well spent in terms of getting the logistics shop to see "the big picture."
"It definitely gives us a sense of purpose," he said. "I don't think (the soldiers) feel they're just pushing paper anymore."
While the soldiers worked on the school, Wilson met with village elders. In an inner courtyard that lay between the school and the village mosque, Atullah invited Wilson to drink chai tea. The two spoke through an interpreter about daily life in the village. Atullah said his village didn't have many modern conveniences, but the villagers have a strong love for one another.
"Its amazing how happy (the villagers) are and how happy the kids are," said Spc. Kenneth Norris, whose job was providing security.
Pvt. Malorie Alonzo, who pulled security with Norris, said she was nervous at first about going outside the compound. During the visit she said, "I'm really glad I came."
Alonzo said she feels American soldiers should form their own opinions of the Afghan people after meeting them, not by hearsay and news reports. "Just sitting inside our office all of the time I think sometimes we can get the wrong idea about the people here," she said. "They are really no different than we are."
As Wilson, Swigert, Ludyjan and Sgt. Charles Duncan laid the last of the decking for the schoolroom floor, Johnson and Sgt. 1st Class Michael Noye, logistics section noncommissioned officer in charge, raced to get the last of the benches made. A few Afghan men, an interpreter and an Afghan National Army soldier joined in.
The heat was excruciating, but the team's morale ran high.
Wilson and Jan, obviously pleased, surveyed the completed floor and benches and made plans for future improvements. The team intends to bring mats, school supplies and paint for the walls in the near future.
Although the project took longer than expected, the villagers would not let the team leave without lunch. U.S. soldiers and villagers sat side by side for their meal. A long cloth was spread on the floor in the guesthouse and rice, okra and stew were served, along with the traditional bread.
Noye later said accomplishing this project shows that coalition forces care and keep their word. "We aren't the greatest carpenters in the world, but I think they saw we put our sweat and hard work into it. We are planning to go back and finish the girls' side," he said.
"We wanted to contribute something," he noted. "We do the logistics thing pretty well, but you can't really see the results. This you can see."
(Spc. Claudia Bullard is a member of the 105th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment