Wednesday, August 30, 2006

The Young British Soldier

When the 'arf-made recruity goes out to the East
'E acts like a babe an' 'e drinks like a beast,
An' 'e wonders because 'e is frequent deceased
   Ere 'e's fit for to serve as a soldier.
      Serve, serve, serve as a soldier,
      Serve, serve, serve as a soldier,
      Serve, serve, serve as a soldier,
         So-oldier OF the Queen!
Now all you recruities what's drafted to-day,
You shut up your rag-box an' 'ark to my lay,
An' I'll sing you a soldier as far as I may:
   A soldier what's fit for a soldier.
      Fit, fit, fit for a soldier . . .
First mind you steer clear o' the grog-sellers' huts,
For they sell you Fixed Bay'nets that rots out your guts --
Ay, drink that 'ud eat the live steel from your butts --
   An' it's bad for the young British soldier.
      Bad, bad, bad for the soldier . . .
When the cholera comes -- as it will past a doubt --
Keep out of the wet and don't go on the shout,
For the sickness gets in as the liquor dies out,
   An' it crumples the young British soldier.
      Crum-, crum-, crumples the soldier . . .
But the worst o' your foes is the sun over'ead:
You must wear your 'elmet for all that is said:
If 'e finds you uncovered 'e'll knock you down dead,
   An' you'll die like a fool of a soldier.
      Fool, fool, fool of a soldier . . .
If you're cast for fatigue by a sergeant unkind,
Don't grouse like a woman nor crack on nor blind;
Be handy and civil, and then you will find
   That it's beer for the young British soldier.
      Beer, beer, beer for the soldier . . .
Now, if you must marry, take care she is old --
A troop-sergeant's widow's the nicest I'm told,
For beauty won't help if your rations is cold,
   Nor love ain't enough for a soldier.
      'Nough, 'nough, 'nough for a soldier . . .
If the wife should go wrong with a comrade, be loath
To shoot when you catch 'em -- you'll swing, on my oath! --
Make 'im take 'er and keep 'er:  that's Hell for them both,
   An' you're shut o' the curse of a soldier.
      Curse, curse, curse of a soldier . . .
When first under fire an' you're wishful to duck,
Don't look nor take 'eed at the man that is struck,
Be thankful you're livin', and trust to your luck
   And march to your front like a soldier.
      Front, front, front like a soldier . . .
When 'arf of your bullets fly wide in the ditch,
Don't call your Martini a cross-eyed old bitch;
She's human as you are -- you treat her as sich,
   An' she'll fight for the young British soldier.
      Fight, fight, fight for the soldier . . .
When shakin' their bustles like ladies so fine,
The guns o' the enemy wheel into line,
Shoot low at the limbers an' don't mind the shine,
   For noise never startles the soldier.
      Start-, start-, startles the soldier . . .
If your officer's dead and the sergeants look white,
Remember it's ruin to run from a fight:
So take open order, lie down, and sit tight,
   And wait for supports like a soldier.
      Wait, wait, wait like a soldier . . .
When you're wounded and left on Afghanistan's plains,
And the women come out to cut up what remains,
Jest roll to your rifle and blow out your brains
   An' go to your Gawd like a soldier.
      Go, go, go like a soldier,
      Go, go, go like a soldier,
      Go, go, go like a soldier,
         So-oldier of the Queen!

Rudyard Kipling

Monday, August 21, 2006

1/4 way done

I guess I can mark the quarter way done mark. It’s not really bad here. I have a place to sleep and hot showers and decent food, even if they can’t figure out what should go together on the menu. Like the other night lasagna and Chinese food night.

It is interesting to see how the new Army does things. To see how much computers have taken over the process we used to do with plastic sheets and grease pencils. It’s also sad to see how much time is spent on slides and briefing prep instead of analysis and collecting. The equipment is better than I had, but the loads you carry are way up. Protective armor, full battle load and weapon by themselves weigh 55 lbs. Add to that all of the gear we carried and body load can reach 150 lbs. The Hummers that were agile in the old days strain under the weight of the add on armor. They have added AC to the vehicles so you don’t roll down the windows. Gunner positions have been enclosed. The vehicles bristle with antennas to get the latest comms.

Personally it has been ups and down. Seeing the caskets go by as we stand and salute our fallen is very sad. Homesickness creeps in on occasion. We were told only two locations and very little travel. It is up to 10 or 12 locations and travel is hard to come by. For the future they should omit things from their orders they don’t stand by. It would lessen confusion and not make for hard feelings. The time frame is unsure. We were told a year, but it may end in Feb or Mar. No one has been able to say if the next group will fall in on the equipment here. If they do then no one seems to be planning to train them on the system stateside. That leaves more travel for me and a delay in getting them up to speed.

There does seem to be improvements in the country but still fighting in parts. Forces are moving into areas little touched over the past 3 years and that spurs some conflict. 10th MTN DIV (LI) is halfway through and the strain is showing, long hours, same thing is fraying nerves and personalities that back home you could leave after work are always with you. The young troops are tired and still fairly new to the Army. The older ones have maturity to fall back on but the new ones don’t have the life experience to cope sometimes. Sometimes this place is very garrison, and does things like soldier of the month boards, 10K’s, PT tests and intramural sports. But then you hear the choppers coming and going all day and night. The A-10’s going on strafing runs and prowlers flying over really low and fast. These remind you that this isn’t garrison.

That's how I see it

your Man in the STAN

Tuesday, August 15, 2006


We installed a server in the wonderful magical land of ISAF. ISAF is the multinational arm of the forces of Afghanistan. It is commanded by NATO right now, with a British General in charge. The trip was interesting to say the lease. The case was too large for a Hummer so we had to find another way to get it there. We rode with KBR in an armored pickup. It looks similar to an armored Wells Fargo bank truck. We got half way there and a Hummer escort blew a radiator hose in the worst place possible. It looked to me to be the perfect ambush site. We sat there for 30 minutes pissing off all the locals on the highway. We toed the hummer back to BAF, waited 30 minutes and took off again minus one escort. We made it to Kabul okay, but there are no traffic rules in this place so driving in the city was fun. Once there we were still 15 miles from our finial destination, called ISAF they said spend the night and they’ll get us in the morning. The Brits came in their little armored cars called snatches. The case was 1 inch too large for the doors in the rear. We gutted it and fit the parts in back then tied the case to the roof. Across Kabul we went with a large crate tied to the roof. Once on ISAF HQ they unloaded us and we got ready to move it to where it was going to go. Luck would have it was upstairs. The damn thing weighs 500 lbs and the stairs were narrow and it was a bitch moving it up there. Then the problems began, Secret Squirrel Stuff. Anyway that left us there for 7 days, not that it was a bad place to be. The Europeans know how to live in a war zone. The room we had they apologized for because it was one of their worst, man it was the best place I’ve seen here. The SGT was shocked when I told him it was 100 times better than our normal huts. The food was great, real cheese, cappuccino machine in the mess hall, fresh bread and fruits. Our selection is better but their food was better. Although if you eat the same thing all the time it does get old, but a change is great. They had a park like place with café tables and gazebos all around to relax and sip your coffee or beer. Yes they had beer, two beers a day you are allowed only during a short time at night. But even though I’m not a big drinker I figured when in Rome. Anyway I hung out at the British pub and tried a different one each night. Never made it to the Germans I guess I should have but oh well next time. The currency of use was the Euro which means for every $20 you get 16 Euro. Their stores sucked and out of my price range, plus they did not take credit cards for purchases under 150 Euro. We walked to the American base for some work (about 3 blocks) the kids we on the street hocking wears but we talked our way though. After a week of stone wall tactics by the IT department we came back to BAF. We were running out of laundry, and patience. After the red tape is done we will go and finish.
Armored pickup

Blown hose in the middle of nowhere

Loading the case on the snatch

Our room they apologized for

The Distilled garden