Democrats & Liberals Archives

Hey Henri --

My piece entitled “Those Who Serve” received the following two posts as comments. Because they were apparently posted from a unit in Iraq I have replied to them at some length in a new posting below.

Samples from my mail:

Hey Henri, why dont you bring your little story over here to Iraq and see how many of us on the ground actually buy what your selling. Its your kind who paraded the pictures of the prison abuse that put more of us in danger over here. YOU DO US NO FAVORS with your rants of pretending to be concerened for us for the sake of filling your column. Give me a call when you land at the airport and Ill pick you up! Spec 4 Armon Dweir
Posted by: Armon Dweir at May 13, 2004 04:18 PM

I know one thing Henri with an i. You would get your ass fraged before you were here a week! God Bless America!
Posted by: Armon's CO at May 19, 2004 11:31 PM

Answers to my mail

To Armon:,

I have posted a reply to you on Watchblog under my blog, “Those Who Serve”. Please keep reading for my reply to your CO:

To Armon’s CO:

You are no doubt angry at the difficult surroundings that your men find them selves facing there. I would probably feel little different from you if I were in your circumstances. Nor would I be fighting any different enemy than you face every day there with any different tactics than you are using. No one at your level in command has any real choice in what they are doing day to day, that is dictated by the needs of the overall mission as defined by your command superiors. I pointed that out in my column that you took such objection to with your reply.

I have no dispute with the fact that you and your men are caught between a rock and a hard place in a Guerrilla War with an enemy that lacks your moral compass. Losing your ethical and moral boundaries may even save your life there. If so then you will lose those boundaries and hopefully survive, your small posting tells me that. It also tells me that you think that you care more about your men than some aging critic of the war that sits safely in California writing about your situation without experiencing it. Those things are all as they should be. What is not OK is that you have expressed the idea that it is right to “frag” someone who disagrees with this war on almost every level of analysis he is capable of today. Levels of analysis that simply do not include your own, of being there today are not sufficient in your eyes. Is that what you meant by your fragged comment and your God bless America comment?

Does your on the spot opinion mean more than mine in the world? Perhaps, perhaps not, let’s examine those prospects a little. You are a person facing a mission that threatens your life and those of your troops every day, your concerns are localized and immediate, they had better be or you and your troops will suffer. You also had better believe firmly in the value of your mission and the purpose for which you are fighting. Those are requirements that every commander in the field should meet before they are sent into combat. At thirty five I might have met those requirements, at twenty five I would certainly met those requirements, At sixty I do not meet those requirements.

I got angry when I first read your posting, it sounded like a voice crying out to shut up those who oppose this war on any of several grounds. The second time I read it the words looked like they were posted in a hurry between taking care of one of the many noxious and even painful duties that commanders in the field must do before they rest. You could be writing a letter to a family beginning, “I regret to inform” or making out the necessary forms to transfer one of your wounded personnel to a hospital unit. You could even be writing a report of an incident where something happened that you regret but was beyond your control as so many things are in combat. Your role is defined for you; one of the reasons that I did not seek a military career was that I was uncomfortable with those types of situations.

I would not have made a good field commander not because of any moral ambiguity I might experience but because I am simply terrible at following orders. I will subordinate my personal beliefs to few if any causes at this age. Even at twenty two I found that difficult enough to turn down an offer of OCS school and leave the military for civilian life. My two year time in service does not qualify me to judge you but it does qualify me to understand some of what you and your men are experiencing. If I were fragged, Sir, it would have been by the enemy not by my fellow troops or my commander. Your insult is unjustified and inappropriate. I would not be in the position of writing this column without payment of any kind for my work if I did not think something important is happening in our nation.

It is what is happening here that I was addressing by using examples from the war and the conduct of our troops in it. If that pisses you off Sir, then we will both just have to live with our anger. Yours at me and mine at your ultimate commander for failing you and us so badly will just have to help us both survive. I hope your anger helps you survive, I have found mine useful at times in that regard. I do wish you and your troops the best and hope that the mission there results in victory for you and the Iraqi’s who want Democracy, as low a chance as I give that outcome it is clearly the best one to be hoped for in these circumstances. Do your best to keep your men safe and I will do my best to see that you come home to a sound Republic that lives up to the ideals that you and your troops embody. God bless you, he has already blessed America by endowing it with sons and daughters like you and those you lead. ©Henri Reynard/GoldenBrush Investments Ltd

Posted by Henri Reynard at May 20, 2004 2:11 PM