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Victor_c3

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Member since: Wed Aug 15, 2012, 02:17 PM
Number of posts: 2,760

About Me

I grew up hardcore Republican and conservative (although I never agreed with the religious portion of the party) and I even voted for Bush in 2000. (However, by 2004 I realized that was a mistake) I joined the Army in 1997, when I was 17 years old and my parents had to sign a waiver to get me in that young. I later went to college, obtained a degree in chemistry, and received a commission in the US Army where I served as an Infantry Officer from May 2002 until I was discharged in October 2007. While I was in the Army, I would consider myself your typical hardcore junior officer. I spent some time in Ranger School, did the typical stint at Airborne School, and I even had grandiose dreams giving it a shot at Special Forces selection. However, I deployed to Iraq as an Infantry Platoon Leader from Feb 2004 through Mar 2005. Seeing and being involved in combat as intimately as an Infantryman does really shook up a lot of my core beliefs. I could write an essay on this, but in short I now lean hard to the left with much of my political views.

Journal Archives

You could just stop the wars...

That might work.

Or make sure that we don't start wars that aren't truly necessary to our actual security and not just to attempt increase our power and posture in the world.

I'm not a psychiatrist or a psychologist, but I'd imagine that a sizable portion of the emotional pain I feel regarding the war in Iraq that I experienced is a result of me realizing that much of it was a fruitless endeavor. I sacrificed and gave everything I had to our country and I have nothing positive to show for it. I don't see how any of what I did made the world a better or more fair place.

I know I probably was drinking too much of the koolaid when I joined the Army, but I really thought that I was joining the Army to protect our country and to help make the world a better place. I saw what was going on in the Balkans and how our military was being used to help provide stability and to stop genocide there. I idolized the Special Forces whose motto is "de oppresso liber" (or liberator of the oppressed). I first joined in 1997 and I received an ROTC scholarship in 1998. When I graduated college in 2002, I owed the Army 4 years of active duty service. I never envisioned that I could have ended up in Iraq destroying lives,families, and communities in 2004. That is not what I signed up for. That is not what I was taught in my childhood what the Army was supposed to be about. We were supposed to have learned a serious lesson about war after Vietnam. It's obvious that we've learned the wrong one -"Unquestionable support for our Soldiers regardless of whether or not they are fighting a just war", not "don't fight wars that are just".

My positive intentions and desires to improve the world around me was manipulated and perverted by those at the very top. The energy and desires that I had to make the world a better and more fair place was instead directed at the opposite.

At least if I would have been fighting in a justified war or if I really did make Iraq a better place I could play the "zero sum" game. I could say to myself "sure I did some pretty shitty things in the war, but at least I turned Iraq into a burgeoning democracy and a shining example of what the middle east could look like. The children of Iraq will be able to grow up and enjoy prosperity and liberty on par with that of my own children". Instead I'm left having to accept the reality that I did some shitty things in the war, left Iraq a more broken country than it was under Sadam, and the children that I impacted will be left with horrifying memories of their families being murdered around them.

I really didn't intend this to turn into another one of my war rants. At some point I need to get over myself and move on, but I constantly find myself being drawn back to the war. It has been nearly 8 years since I've been in Iraq yet it is still constantly front and center in my mind.

I know it's not the same, but I raided my share of wrong houses when I was in Iraq

we'd plan these elaborate large-scale raids where we'd target 6-10 houses in a smallish community and hit them all at once with 400+ Soldiers and all of their accessories. On more than one occasion I remember getting the neighbor's house or being a block or two off from the intended target.

I really felt like crap for doing it, but we'd kick int he doors, throw stuff all over the place, segregate the the women, children, and men and start to process the people we thought we should detain. Kids and women would be crying and all hell would be breaking loose in the houses. Then, the battalion intelligence guy would say that we got the wrong house, we'd cut the zip-ties off of the wrists of the men and leave as fast as we came and hit the supposed correct house.

Talk about winning the hearts and minds of the Iraqis... I always felt terrible for panic I caused - especially after having kids of my own. I couldn't imagine how I would feel to be woken up in the middle of the night to a group of 20-40 heavily armed Soldiers with Tanks and Bradley Fighting Vehicles ripping up my house, scaring the crap out of my kids, and arresting me and taking me away from my family.

Actually, I really feel like crap for most of the stuff I did in Iraq. I had a lot of opportunities to display compassion and to soften my presence and I blew most of them. I really could have made a difference at least to the small sector that I worked out of as a Platoon Leader and been a much kinder and gentler person. The sad truth is that I was probably just as scared doing what I was doing in Iraq as the Iraqi people were of me and I was just trying to survive long enough to get home. "Violence of execution" is a major tenant of operations and how the military functions and, as a younger and more naive guy, I executed all too well without enough restraint.

I know that this is starting to turn into a lengthy rant now, but my experiences in Iraq in 2004 really shifted me hard to the left and made me a much kinder and gentler person.

this sounds just like Iraq (again)

"Accordingly, the collision of policy and reality first took place on the ground in Trieu Ai village and its like. The American forces, including their local commanders, were confronted with a reality that the policymakers had not faced and would not face for many long years. Expecting to be welcomed as saviors, the troops found themselves in a sea of nearly universal hostility."

I didn't even make 20% down when I found a quote that got my attention

"If one man and his tiny team could claim more KIAs [killed in action] than an entire battalion without raising red flags among superiors; if a brigade commander could up the body count by picking off civilians from his helicopter with impunity; if a top general could institutionalize atrocities through the profligate use of heavy firepower in areas packed with civilians - then what could be expected down the line, especially among heavily armed young infantrymen operating in the field for weeks, angry, tired, and scared, often unable to locate the enemy and yet relentlessly pressed for kills?"

I hate to say it, but much of Vietnam sounds like my experience in Iraq. In many cases I think the comparison is over used as Iraq is unique in its own right, but some of the similarities are startling. I don't intend to elaborate on this thought right now, but I know that the US says that it learned a lot of lessons from Vietnam, but it appears that it learned the wrong ones.

I wasn't stressed to get more "kills" than anyone else by my chain of command, but there was a bit of competition between units over stuff like that. My platoon was golden in terms of our combat experiences when I was in Iraq until Falujah kicked off in November 2004. Between March 2004 and Nov 2004 (just prior to Falujah) my platoon fired more main gun tank rounds than any other platoon in our division - and I had a platoon that was made up of 2x tanks and 2x Bradley Fighting Vehicles (a normal armor platoon has 4 tanks). In one of our firefights, my platoon was credited with killing 26 (presumably) enemy personnel. Nobody in the battalion of combat engineers that my platoon was attached to could touch us in terms of combat power, experience, or kills. In many ways, I held a special position of prestige in the unit based on what my platoon did in combat and my officer evaluation report reflected that.

This unsaid competition between units gives us ruinous results in both wars. Local civilian populations pay the price and react with anger and continue to view the American military as ruthless occupiers and the goals of these wars are never able to be realized as a result.

Training, exercises, and the general culture within the Army stresses force protection before any other objective. When in doubt, shoot it. We are trained to kill and reminded of that constantly. When I was in basic training I remember having to sound off with "one shot, one kill" at the Drill Sergeants command. The "kill" mentality and do whatever you have to do in order to protect yourself and your unit is exactly the reason there have been an estimated 100,000-1,000,000 dead Iraqi civilians during the war. I remember hearing in briefings in 2004 that they estimated that only about 5,000 enemy/insurgent personnel were operating in Iraq at the time. Did we really need to kill that many civilians to get 5,000 "enemy"?

I don't know if I'm making any sort of a coherent point here, but writing about the war is extremely draining on me and I don't have the will to re-read what I wrote to proof read it.

Looks like a very interesting film

I'm going to have to look up the earlier film about those same people.

I've been going through my own struggle with returning home and I would think that it would be therapeutic to hear how others have fared before me. Maybe I'll even learn something and get some direction. For the most part I do alright, but I get into some serious slumps where I just want to drop out of the world. I have a hard time caring about anyone or anything else and I don't feel much or any of an emotional attachment to the people I should feel an attachment to. My kids mean the world to me, but I feel so distant from them at times and it really hurts. I'm sure that these guys who were featured in the documentary will say the same thing, but returning home and trying to live a normal life is the hardest thing I've ever tried to do. If I could drop everything and be back in Iraq tomorrow and never come home, I'd do it.

I'm not looking for sympathy, I'm just rambling my mind a little bit. Thanks for the links to the film.

I've got a bunch of them, but I'm pretty messed up from my time in Iraq

Most of them are things that you'd say over the radio and probably don't have any meaning to most people and I won't get into most of them.

"shot, over" and my knee-jerk reaction is to say "splash, over".

I used to work with a bunch of other ex-military guys and we all carried radios on our hips at the job. The ex-Army guys would randomly say "shot, over" all the time on net and the rest of us would race as fast as we could to reply with "splash, over". Or at least I would. Maybe they were just messing with me, which could be the case. I was a very broken person at my last job (which is the reason why I lost my job) and I had a lot of problems with PTSD and stress...

Early Thanksgiving morning in 2004 I was conducting a patrol with a section of armor from my platoon. I was approaching an Iraqi Army checkpoint located at a bridge that crosses the Diyala river just north of Baqubah when a whole bunch of tracers came at us from a wooded area somewhere north of my position. I couldn't see anything, but I knew that enemy were in the palm grove so I called for artillery fire into the area. I explicitly state that I wanted HE (high explosive) rounds yet they sent me illumination rounds (giant flares that light up the night sky like it was day), which really made me happy. I loved the idea of negating the advantage that I had with my thermal and nigh-vision optics and providing the enemy with a easy opportunity to identify my precise position.

It was a cold and miserable morning. It was wet from the rain and I spent the rest of the morning stopping and searching random cars as they crossed the bridge. I don't remember what I spent the rest of the day doing, but I do remember that our thanksgiving dinner was phenomenal. The hot chow that was served to us was usually very limited in quantity and shitty in quality, but both the quantity and quality of our thanksgiving dinner was amazing.

For the best impact, I personally recommend that you listen to some gangsta rap while watching

My favorites definitely have to be the following:

Cypress Hill - "How I Could Just Kill A Man"
Cypress Hill - "Hole in the Head"
Cypress Hill - "Hand on the Pump"
Notorious BIG - "Gimme the Loot"
Notorious BIG - "Things Done Changed"
Notorious BIG - "Ready to Die"
Notorious BIG - "Suicidal Thoughts"
NWA - "Straight outta Compton"

Listening to some of those good ol' "murder tracks" definitely puts me into a crazy mood and gets me amped up to get back into the fight. I think I say this in every one of my war posts, but it is so true. War brings out the worst in people.

Messed up video about the sorts of things that happen in Iraq

&list=HL1355492177&index=5

How many things like this were reported in our news when the war in Iraq was going on at full speed? I was living in Germany during much of the war and I didn't have cable television until a few months ago so I really don't know.

Geeze. And we wonder why they don't like us over there...

I blame a lot of it on the general misconception that a lot of Americans have about war

Most people aren't aware of or don't care about what really goes on in the wars in the Middle East. Mass media repeats over and over again terms like "surgical strike" and they glaze over civilian casualties. The government doesn't keep track of or report the full extent of civilian casualties and Americans go on believing that those deaths are minimal to nonexistent. Terms like "collateral damage" are used when discussing dead boys, girls, women, and men who are killed during an errant drone strike and it further sterilizes our actions and makes them palatable to Americans.

Much of America grows up playing war related video games and watching movies that doesn't capture the full nastiness of war which further makes war a more palatable action. You shoot and kill someone on the game, the pile of pixels falls off the screen, and you don't see the end result and you grow numb to the experience.

The flag waiving veterans that you do see are mostly veterans who haven't actually participated first hand in combat. Those veterans seem to preach or suggest that there is glory to be had in war and that combat is a patriotic function. Meanwhile, combat veterans who are broken by the war and their experiences remain quiet, battling their demons in silence. Americans who don't know better mistaken this silence for a withheld story of valor or heroism an believe, wrongly, that this silent veteran is just humble and modest. At least in my case, much of my actions in the war left me with feelings of shame and guilt.

In a semi-anonymous forum like this I let a lot of my thoughts and emotions run freely, but aside from the Doctor's at the VA, nobody I actually talk to know much about what I did when I was in Iraq. Nobody that I interact with regularly has any idea of the full nastiness of war and ugly it can be or what I did. And I do realize that my silence is feeding the American misconception on war. I've posted one of my combat award certificates on this forum before, but I've never shown anyone that I really know some of those details about myself.

I do realize that much of my opinions on war are contradictory. I'm not proud of what I did, yet I make sure everyone knows that I'm a veteran. I sport an avatar on this forum for a Bronze Star Medal and I proclaim that I served as an Infantry Platoon Leader in my signature yet I'm ashamed of what that actually entailed.

I kind of lost the point that I wanted to make with this post, but I spent too much time writing it to just trash it. The two things that I wanted to try to work into this was:

1) In the 20th century, for every 1 Soldier killed in war approximately 10 civilians were killed. This number was compiled by the red cross.

2) It is estimated that between 100,000 and 1,000,000 Iraqi civilians were killed in the war. The number is so vague because the DOD doesn't bother to keep track of this number itself. How many people are aware of that?

War is a criminal action. The politicians who wage it need to be held accountable for it. However, as a society, we all need to take responsibility for it as well. The American people step back and allow our politicians to wage these wars. How many protest have you seen demanding a stop to the wars in Iraq or Afghanistan? I do realize that I'm just as much of the problem as anyone else is (if not more so because of my silence regarding what I saw and did in war myself). I need to get more active and I need to demand accountability for our politicians actions in starting these wars.

The idea of entangling our military in Syria makes me nauseas

I'm appalled at the idea of the Syrian regime using chemical weapons on civilians too, but I'm scared shitless of Syria turning into another mess like Iraq and Afghanistan.

Doesn't anyone remember that Sadam's use of chemical weapons on his own people in the past was one of the reasons that the bush administration used to justify the 2003 war in Iraq? Was that war and the estimated 100,000 - 1,000,000+ dead civilians and $1 trillion wasted worth it?

I made many of the points in this thread in a post that I made in another thread, but I thought it was worthwhile to post this as a thread in its own right. Anything war related tends to get buried in the rear echelons of this forum. Most people are happy to ignore war and don't want to talk about it.

Before anyone is eager to send our military to fight in anyone's mess we need to know exactly what it is we are sending our Soldiers into and we all need to own it. Unfortunately, that isn't the case. We'll rally at the inhumanity and cry for the use of deployment of our war machine to Syria for a week, the government will do it, then we'll forget about it when the season finale for dancing with the stars or the voice comes up. We as a country will forget about what is going on in Syria and glance over what our military is doing on the ground and how it is impacting our Soldiers.

War turns nice people into evil people. Having been through it first hand myself (I served as an Infantry Platoon Leader in Iraq for 13 months in Iraq in 2004) I've experienced it first hand. Once you start shooting and killing people, it gets easier to do. Once you find yourself comfortable with committing murder what do you suppose that does to a person's moral compass?

When we hear stories of Soldiers posing with bodies of Taliban fighters like they were hunting trophies or videos of Soldiers pissing on the dead surface, we shouldn't be shocked. It's not natural to kill anyone. Having been through that experience myself, it makes you feel like shit regardless of the circumstance or how "justified" you are told it is. And, as much as I like to think that I'm a good person, the honest truth is it only got easier to do it the more the war went on. As soon as you can find yourself easily committing the ultimate transgression what stops you from committing any others? I'm probably doing a great job getting myself the "DU biggest piece of shit" moniker, but the only reason I didn't piss on the body of or pose with the body of a person I killed was because I didn't think of it - and that is the honest truth.

I don't know exactly what circumstances would make war an appropriate option or what a justified military response would be. I'm in the throws of trying to figure out my own anti-war stance and a lot of my positions on the subject is contradictory. However, my biggest sticking point with war is that the media needs to stop sterilizing it. We as a country would be more opposed to war if we understood exactly what it entailed in its full detail. It's just like the average American eating meat. Since most of us are removed from the process that brings us meat, it is easy for us to eat. However, if we all had to go into our backyards and butcher our own cow and take its life with our own hands, I bet many people wouldn't be able to stomach it. The same holds true to war. It's easy to support a war when you are thousands of miles away and you see the clean shrink-wrapped version presented to you by the media but it isn't easy to support a war when you actually have the blood on your hands and you are involved in it.

The media needs to show the dead women and children and report all of the atrocities that happen. The media needs to show the flag draped coffins and the gory images of the mangled dead that is produced. If we can stomach making the decision to send troops into harms way, then we need to stomach the gory details of what the decision fully entails. I know that at some point I need to get over myself, but the personal pain and images that I endure as a result of my war time service needs to be on the conscious of every American who supported the war. Every American who supported the war should have a picture of a mangled child's dead body front and center in their living room. They should have to face that image constantly during every moment of their life and it should haunt them just as much as it haunts the Soldier who killed that child and the family that lost that child. When they are sitting on the floor opening birthday presents with their child on an otherwise happy day, images of a dying 10 year old with a sucking chest wound and his shocked 6 year old little brother and three handcuffed uncles should be front and center in their mind. The parent should have to look at their shocked 4 year old daughter and explain why they are crying on their birthday.

If it wasn't for the support for the war at home there wouldn't have been a war. Everybody would be hard pressed to support any war if they knew the full scope of the violence that will be committed in their name.
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