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March 25, 2006

H&I Fires* 25 Mar 06

Open post for those with something to share, updated through the day. New, complete posts come in below this one. Note: If trackbacking, please acknowledge this post in your post. That's only polite. You're advertising here, we should get an ad at your place...

In keeping with the Army pics below - here's a nice one of some Marines out swimming... Whoa! What was that? A flash of leg from all the Denizennes, led by Princess Crabby, clicking *that* link!

While this is interesting in itself (and has some implications for us, too, seeing as how crewing and maintenance costs killed the battleships and are the big bill in the Navy - I'm just glad to see the Brits still in the carrier business, since they thought about getting out of it altogether.

Okay - enjoy your Saturday, I'm gettin' up early in a few hours and heading back into the bunker. -The Armorer


Scarlet Letter
Part II: When does government go too far? When some schmuck in PRoC (People's Republic of California) decides that its a good idea to make people previously convicted of DUI drive around with a red license plate that includes the letters "DUI" emblazoned on it. This is on top of the punishment, fines or incarceration that the DUI offender is sentenced to. Obviously, the sponsoring senator did not get much out of his literature classes. Nathaniel Hawthorne is rolling in his grave. - Kat


We say goodbye to two Medal of Honor recipients this week. David Bleak (Korea) and Conscientious Objector Desmond Doss (WWII) stand out even among their fellow MoH recipients. Please don't fail to read and remember the stories of these two men of extraordinary courage and character. - Fuzzybear Lioness


Flash Traffic (extended entry) Follows... »

What I'm up to (as much as you get to know, anyway)

This thing is kicking my butt. Aside from the wear and tear of service that has ground down my endurance, the long hours, out-of-kilter time synch, and mebbe all the walking we're doing and breathing in all the yellow dust and pollution of Seoul are taking their toll - but I'm damn tired. And you no-tolerance-for-slackers readers ambushed me this morning over that blasted caption (/whine).

I'm data collecting for a study. Which means we are here talking to a lot of people. All of whom are spread apart from each other, all over Yongsan garrison and all over the large underground bunker that houses the command post we're in now that the exercise has started. And my younger-than-I-and-still-healthy partner has waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay too much energy. And his ability to pump people for info is astounding to watch.

The CP bunker is fascinating. Like Cheyenne Mountain, which contains NORAD headquarters in the US, this is dug into the base of a mountain. You approach up a long, winding road (where the fiber cable that carries most of the comms is conveniently marked with little signs every 50 or so feet, "Buried Fiber Optic Cable, Do Not Cut" which I'm sure will completely throw off the NORK SF guys...).

There are two checkpoints and several manned bunkers along the road. No, this is not an OPSEC violation, btw. All this is visible from the 8 lane highway, or any of the innumerable garden plots and houses that line the route. This place is as secret as NORAD is from that perspective. It's protection lies in it's construction and the likely threats against it. CPs Tango and Oscar are not secrets. Nor are the general outlines of how they are laid out. If you know where to look, the maps are there for the printing. This is brute force security - tons and tons of Precambrian (old) banded granite gneiss that make up the mountains in the region.

You walk up to the portal, get your ID checked and scanned in and walk up the tunnel to the door (passing some more bunkers inside). Classic mountain tunnel carved "from the living stone" to channel Tolkien and others. Greyish-black, coarse-grained feldspar interspersed with white bands of quartz or alspite - it's hard stuff that wears well and takes stress well. In other words, a good place to build a bunker.

You approach the blast doors, which are more akin to European between-the-wars bunkers than the huge bank-vault type doors of Cheyenne Mountain, and enter the bunker complex.

For people familiar with NORAD, the first thing you notice is that - it doesn't look like NORAD. The interior buildings are not on huge shock-absorbing springs inside a cavern. They carved into the cavern and are integral to it. What it most resembles is a ship. And initially, it is as disorienting as a ship can be to newbies - because until you know the layout, everything looks the same. Gleaming white corridors with a 5 inch black base. Glossy Navy Gray floors. Conduit and piping everywhere, some colored, most white. Cable runs, air plenums, airlock doors. The doors are all light brown, as are their frames - and they all look alike. Side passages seemingly open off randomly (though there is very much an order here) and all the signs for the various staff sections look the same. It even has bilge pumps (and gutters) for the water that naturally flows through a place like this.

It's full of people - some like me, wandering around trying to get organized and oriented, most moving purposefully off on their unknown tasks. Little tiny Koreans, big hulking Americans, and all the flavors in-between. It's a joint and combined staff, so you see sailors, airmen, soldiers, Marines, and their Korean equivalents. The uniform variation is jarring, too, and you have the DoD civilians and many contractors also in uniform. Then there's the Guys With Ties, like me. I'd rather be in BDUs. I hate ties.

The main operations center is right out of the movies, full of people, computers and blinkenlights, and a video wall dominating one side of the room.

This is a nerve center of a military machine that has had 50 years to prepare for a battle in it's front yard. The difference between this CP and a forward-deployed CP over in-theater in the Middle East is marked. Much more comfortable here. Nice and cool, controlled climate, regular facilities vice porta-potties, and you're sleeping in the Marriott rather than a barracks conex.

But, just like back at Yongsan, everyone I need to talk to is scattered in different corners of the complex, running on different schedules with real missions - so we have to work around that. There's no laying out a rational rotation. We go from one corner of the CP to another, then back to where we were to catch someone else whom we couldn't catch while we were there earlier.

Then there's the interviews/discussions, where you have to be able to listen and record, but think ahead as well. It's work, and it's exhausting. Then, at the end of the shift - get back to the hotel and start writing stuff down in a coherent form while it's still fresh, so I don't have to try to decipher what the heck I meant when I wrote that cryptic note in a hurry.

There's enough of that already!

Lot's of learning going on, none of which you guys are gonna hear about, sorry.

Time to head off for brekkies then a taxi to Yongsan to catch the bus to the CP.

Sorry, no pics. Can't take any. And besides, I'd just give the captionistas anudder target.

Around the Army...

U.S. Army Soldiers from the 1st Brigade, 1st Armored Division dismount a UH-60 Blackhawk from the 101st Airborne Division, Task Force No Mercy, Bravo Comp. 1st of the 207 Aviation during an Air Assault in the Al Jazeera Desert, Iraq on 22 Mar. 2006. (U.S. Air Force photo By Staff Sgt. Aaron Allmon)(Cleared for public release)

U.S. Army Soldiers from the 1st Brigade, 1st Armored Division dismount a UH-60 Blackhawk from the 101st Airborne Division, Task Force No Mercy, Bravo Comp. 1st of the 207 Aviation during an Air Assault in the Al Jazeera Desert, Iraq on 22 Mar. 2006. (U.S. Air Force photo By Staff Sgt. Aaron Allmon)(Cleared for public release)

I put a lot of miles in vehicles just like this one - they're holding up better than I am - they're still serving!

<s>A U.S. Army soldier from 2nd Battalion, 9th Cavalry Regiment in a turret of a M2A2 Bradley looks through binoculars for enemy activity from Blocking Point 21 during Operation Swarmer, Northeast of Samarra, March 17, 2006.  Blocking points were established around the main objective area during the operation to block any insurgent escape route while coalition forces searched for weapon caches and Anti-Iraqi forces.  (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Alfred Johnson) (Released)</s>  Wiki-edited: A (putative) U.S. Army soldier from 2nd Battalion, 9th Cavalry Regiment (then why is there a Rakkasan mark on the shield of that ACAV?) in a turret of a M2A2 Bradley (sic) looks through binoculars (I think) for enemy activity from Blocking Point 21 (possibly, but I have no method of external confirmation) during Operation Swarmer, Northeast of Samarra, March 17, 2006 (again, putatively).  Blocking points were established around the main objective area during the operation to block any insurgent escape route while coalition forces searched for weapon caches and Anti-Iraqi forces. (which is standard practice for these kinds of operations, but for all I really know this guy is just looking for a Mini-mart) (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Alfred Johnson) (So they say) (Released) (That, at least, is true)

A U.S. Army soldier from 2nd Battalion, 9th Cavalry Regiment in a turret of a M2A2 Bradley looks through binoculars for enemy activity from Blocking Point 21 during Operation Swarmer, Northeast of Samarra, March 17, 2006. Blocking points were established around the main objective area during the operation to block any insurgent escape route while coalition forces searched for weapon caches and Anti-Iraqi forces. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Alfred Johnson) (Released) Wiki-edited: A (putative) U.S. Army soldier from 2nd Battalion, 9th Cavalry Regiment (then why is there a Rakkasan mark on the shield of that ACAV?) in a turret of a M2A2 Bradley (sic) looks through binoculars (I think) for enemy activity from Blocking Point 21 (possibly, but I have no method of external confirmation) during Operation Swarmer, Northeast of Samarra, March 17, 2006 (again, putatively). Blocking points were established around the main objective area during the operation to block any insurgent escape route while coalition forces searched for weapon caches and Anti-Iraqi forces. (which is standard practice for these kinds of operations, but for all I really know this guy is just looking for a Mini-mart) (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Alfred Johnson) (So they say) (Released) (That, at least, is true)">

While not involved in *this* particular event, this is a part of the much larger event I am participating in while I'm here in the Land of the Morning Calm where I am sleep-deprived enough to miss the farked up captions that the Army puts on it's pictures and am reading no one else's blog and so I am out of touch and behind the Murdoc News Network and others who have more time available than I do at the moment, not to mention access. Since I am obviously just getting slow and stupid over here and further driving away readership I think I'll just quit posting rather than keep embarassing myself and you guys this way.

A U.S. Army CH-47 Chinook helicopter pulls in for a landing aboard USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19) during a joint Navy-Army training evolution off the coast of Korea March 21, 2006. Blue Ridge is the Seventh Fleet command ship, forward deployed to Yokosuka, Japan. The helicopter is attached to Bravo Company, 2nd Battalion, 52nd Aviation Regiment, Camp Humphreys, Korea. (U.S. Navy photo by PhotographerÕs Mate Airman David J. Hewitt) (Released)

A U.S. Army CH-47 Chinook helicopter pulls in for a landing aboard USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19) during a joint Navy-Army training evolution off the coast of Korea March 21, 2006. Blue Ridge is the Seventh Fleet command ship, forward deployed to Yokosuka, Japan. The helicopter is attached to Bravo Company, 2nd Battalion, 52nd Aviation Regiment, Camp Humphreys, Korea. (U.S. Navy photo by PhotographerÕs Mate Airman David J. Hewitt) (Released)

My Saturday is over...

...yours is just beginning. I'm gonna be lazy and do a few jokes and otherwise take the day off. All y'all have fun!

A married couple in their early 60s was out celebrating their 35th wedding anniversary in a quiet, romantic little restaurant. Suddenly, a tiny yet beautiful fairy appeared on their table and said, "For being such an exemplary married couple and for being faithful to each other for all this time, I will grant you each a wish."

"Oh, I want to travel around the world with my darling husband" said the wife. The fairy waved her magic wand and - poof! - Two tickets for the Queen Mary II luxury liner appeared in her hands.

Then it was the husband's turn. He thought for a moment and said: "Well, this is all very romantic, but an opportunity like this will never come again. I'm sorry my love, but my wish is to have a wife 30 years younger than me."

The wife, and the fairy, were deeply disappointed, but a wish is a wish...

So the fairy waved her magic wand and - poof!- The husband became 92 years old.

The moral of the story: Men who are ungrateful bassids should remember fairies are female.

[joe pesci voice] Okay, okay, okay - I gotta 'nother one [/joe pesci voice]

Grandpa and Grandma were visiting the kids overnight, when Grandpa found a bottle of Viagra in his son's medicine cabinet. He asked the son about using one of the pills. The son said, "I don't think you should take one; they're very strong and very expensive". "How much?" asked Grandpa. "$10.00 a pill," answered the son. "I don't care," said Grandpa, "I'd still like to try one, and I'll leave the money under your pillow as soon as I break this bill.

The next morning the son found $110.00 under
his pillow. The son said, "I told you each pill was
$10.00, not $110.00."

"I know," said Grandpa.
"The hundred is from Grandma."

I'll be in the house all week, thank you, thank you, thank you!

All right, all right, ya talked me into it.

Click here, take a look at the picture, and gimme a guess as to the cup size.

Made your guess? Good.

Now click here, and see how close you were.

March 24, 2006

H&I Fires* 24 March 06

Open post for those with something to share, updated through the day. New, complete posts come in below this one. Note: If trackbacking, please acknowledge this post in your post. That's only polite. You're advertising here, we should get an ad at your place...

The Gov fought it, called in some chips, and still lost. Not that I'm going to rush out and start carrying when the law goes into effect... but I probably *will* get the permit.

Kansas now has (well, will) concealed carry.

I have some friends who will change nothing about what they already do, however, contending that getting a permit amounts to accepting the validity of the premise that you need a permit. They can fight their fights, I'll fight mine.

I dunno 'bout SWWBO though - she may start packin'.

'Bout them three rescued "peace activists" who were quick to blame the very people who rescued them... the feeling 'round the bunker is - "Buncha patchouli-scented twits who *don't* get it - that just because you want to hug the jihadi doesn't mean he's gonna hug ya back... and even though they are painfully stupid, we'll go rescue 'em again if we need to - but next time they get a bill for services rendered. They're lousy tippers, too."

While we're over at Jay's place... "another one bites the dust!" Of course, it could get worse, couldn't it?

And is not Muir (see cartoon above for 24 March) reading this space? I'm *sure* we gave him the idea for today's cartoon last week with our discussion in the comments... though I don't remember which post and I ain't gonna take the time to figger out which one...

Hee! The Castle Adjutant sent it - I was gonna post it - but SWWBO beat me to it!

Alrighty then - I've got contact reports to fill out and then I'm for bed. Good morning to you slugs just getting up yesterday! -The Armorer


Fascism and V for Vendetta [h/t to reader at Lex's place]

An amazing story: 14-year-old who disappeared returns 10 years later - Fuzzybear Lioness


When does government go to far? When it arrests people in bars for "public intoxication".

Some erstwhile researchers discover the spot where Sgt York won the Medal of Honor (back when we knew what a "hero" was).

Little known historical fact: the Iron Cross that Hitler wore to the end was recommended by his Jewish Lieutenant.

Finally, for a longer, philosophical read, I agree with Fukyama: Europe should be careful what it asks for, because it just might get it. A nationalist, isolationist America usually leads to bad things for the world at large. - Kat


More Mass Media Madness!
Commissar has an excellent breakdown on a misleading article regarding US Casulties in Gulf War Episode II.

And since the Armorer has been posting about food I thought I would be kind, and supply him a rather helpful Menu Food and drink warnings apply! Possibly NSFW if your IT Admin is uptight


This is why the whole Dubai thing really annoyed me. Whampoa has extensive holdings in LA Harbor and Long Beach Harbor(LB gotten when the Navy pulled out). The PRC has PLA colonels writing books like 'Unrestricted Warfare' and writing white papers calling for control of 'The Three Island Chains', the third including the Aluetian Islands, by 2050; and that nation has all but named the US as the an enemy to their goals/vision. But nary a peep out of those who were down right PISSED OFF over Dubai.

Sometimes I feel like I'm surrounded by idiots, and considering who is talking here that's saying a lot.-----ry
There are some things that Man Was Never Meant to Do. This is one of them.

And there are other things that Man Was Meant to Laugh Over. Baby-san just found his W-2 from 1970 and us ROFAs have been going into hysterics about what we made for base pay, flight pay and combat pay for one year in the Land of the Two-Way Range.


Best comment to date was "We Were Soldiers Once -- And Inexpensive." - cw4(ROFLMAO)billt

Flash Traffic (extended entry) Follows... »

The Freed Hostages.

Some more info from a mailing list I'm on:

This is a clip from a much longer report that can be accessed only as a premium subscriber at stratfor; however, I thought this merited bringing to your attention:

Hostage Rescue in Iraq: A Western Intelligence Network in Action The March 23 rescue of three Western peace activists held hostage in Iraq for four months was the work of an elite multinational unit known as Task Force Black. The rescue operation -- which involved undercover work, informant payoffs, surveillance and the arrest and interrogation of suspects -- suggests that efforts to establish an intelligence-gathering network in Iraq are beginning to pay off.

Task Force Black rescued Canadians Harmeet Singh Sooden and James Loney, along with Briton Norman Kember, all members of the group Christian Peacemaker Teams who were kidnapped while on their way to a meeting with the Association of Muslim Scholars in Baghdad in November 2005. The fourth hostage, American Tom Fox, had been shot dead, and his body dumped March 9 on a Baghdad street.

Led by British Special Air Service (SAS) members, Task Force Black is a team of some 250 personnel, including U.S., Australian and British special forces as well as intelligence personnel from various agencies. Following the November kidnappings, FBI agents, MI6 officers, Canadian kidnap experts and hostage negotiators from Scotland Yard also were brought in to work on the case.

Of course, the list has it's Contrarian Corps as well...

STRATFOR's conclusions are premature. The success of a single operation, however impressive, does not justify the drawing of general conclusions about the success OR failure of intelligence gathering efforts in Iraq.

To which the original poster replied:

So, is this just market driven analysis (be first) or is it somehow propaganda?

Followed up by:

Well, we're given one data point (& how reliable is the source?). As I remember from my math classes in the last century, one can draw an infinite number of lines through one point.

Re. propaganda, usually the best stuff is just a wee bit off the truth...

I have insufficient data for a meaningful answer.

Sergeant Amanda Pinson

Chuck Simmins feels she is someone you should meet. Obviously, I agree.

So, go meet Sergeant Amanda Pinson. Not a Medal winner, not a deserter, just an average soldier, doing what soldiers do. Don't miss the update, which puts a face to the name.

And like me when I deployed, she left some instructions for her family, too.

Mine never had to be read. Hers... well, now is the time at Castle Argghhh! when we dance: In Memoriam.

We can't honor them all in this space individually, so we honor them through representative samples.

Since her family seems to be reading Chuck's site - leave your condolence notes there.

If you have something rude to say, please leave those notes here, along with an address and phone number where you can be reached. ;^)

A Wounded Marine in Need

Soldiers' Angels and the Military Order of the Purple Heart are trying to raise the spirits of a severely injured Marine (OIF) who is in a very tough spot due to additional issues.

He is a huge NASCAR fan, so SA and MOPH would like to supply him with NASCAR memorabilia like posters and model cars, etc. If you would like to help identify and procure NASCAR items or have contacts in the sport, please email FbL.

by Denizens on Mar 24, 2006

Persons of Size in the Army.

From an Army Captain who recently handed over command:

How's this for messed up? Army fatties, rejoice!

This is, IMO, completely retarded. I can only guess that they're having too many course failures and/or turnbacks for failing to meet ht/wt and/or APFT standards, possibly connected to the difficulty of doing PT (especially running) during extended deployments. And I'm sure a lot of soldiers and NCOs come back from deployment overdue for some school or other, and get shipped to the next available class, without much of a chance to get back in shape. Of course, my solution to this would be to delay sending them until they meet the standards.

On a separate but related note, I don't think the Army should get quite so bent out of shape about ht/wt/body fat. I think if you can pass the PT test, it shouldn't matter. However, I would make those soldiers who don't meet ht/wt/body fat pass at a higher level-say, increase the minimum to pass by 5 pts per event for every 1% or fraction thereof over the standard.

Because those big corn fed boys are useful for humping heavy stuff, like mortars, MGs, 155 rounds, HMMWV tires...

CPT "Z" (Changed to protect the guilty)

Heh. An issue near and dear to the Armorer's heart, having fought AR 600-9 and it's pernicious effects for virtually his entire career. While I don't completely disagree with the good Captain - I do disagree on making hefty people meet a higher standard. Either they're acceptably fit, or they aren't. Regardless of being an endomorph, ectomorph, or mesomorph. AR 600-9 is more about looks than fitness. And looks trump over fitness, too (in my Army, not that I supported that).

Why do we simply not raise the fitness bar so that if you aren't fit it won't matter? Simple. Too many thin, pretty people would fail the new standard. Far more than fat guys would pass. And then, horror of horror, there would *still* be fat guys enraging the Sergeant's Major and Pencil-Necked, Sunken-Chested Marathon-Running-Geek enablers in the Officer Corps.

Truth - the sin is Not Looking Good In The Bus Driver Suit. I don't care if you can score 290 on your PT test (out of 300, with a minimum to pass of 210). I'm gonna toss yer fat ass and keep that good looking pansy who scores 240, because your profile view just pisses me off. Think that isn't an issue with some people? Read on -

From a serving Sergeant Major:

Here is my two cents once again.....thank god I am retiring. I can just see it getting to the point where guys like Southerland [sic] (my cartman from south park soldier) representing at an NCOES school.......good god how low will we go. SGM X
Now SGM X's "Cartman" troop may be a non-PT marshmallow who can't lead his way out of a paper bag and doesn't know his job. But that doesn't appear to be the SGM's concern (and I'm putting words in his mouth, to be sure).

From a serving CSM:

Now all Soldiers don't have to feel guilty about telling MacDonald's or Burger King to Super Size their order, because they still get to graduate whether they fail the APFT, HT/WT, or both. As a previous Commandant of [an] NCO Academy, I have my own personal opinion about this new change in graduation requirements & I've already given it to the FORSCOM CSM.

I knew this was coming down the chimney, but this is it in black & white & is now the LAW of the Land. Make sure your Leaders/Soldiers are aware of the new changes, but this is not a free card to BLOW UP!


I'm sympathetic to the PT issue with CSM X. And I don't mind a little emphasis on weight, either. And I think I know why we've implemented the policy - as CPT Z observed, keeping it up while deployed can be hard. And with people shifting around so much, delaying their schooling might find them in a unit which gets lock-down for a new deployment and they never get to school - hence, send 'em whether they can pass or not.

But, are we doing these guys a favor? Nope. We're still going to kill their careers, at least kill 'em if the war slows down to a more peacetime optempo. How? Because no matter how well they do in the course, how well they perform, how well they test - their academic efficiency report in their personnel file is going to read "Marginally Achieved Course Standards". Which, when things slow down, will be cause to pass them over for promotion. Got that? A guy who scored 70% in academics, isn't too chubby, and got a 210 on the PT test is going to have a better report than the guy who's a little chunky, got a 240 on the PT test and 95% in academics. We gotta have standards - I'm with it. But the first guy is going to get promoted with a lot less effort than the second guy, who is the better all around troop.

Which means, soldiers - you've got to do what you've got to do to get and stay on the right side of the standards. But it also means, perhaps more importantly, that the LEADERS have to lead. And make sure that they maximize their troop's chances to excel, to include, if possible, delaying them from attending schools and giving them the opportunity to get right with the regs if the situation allows.

Because the stupid part of this whole thing is - we tell ourselves our standards are all about combat readiness and being fit to fight. But - when we have to fight, we ditch the standards to keep the bodies. Then, after we've sent them to combat and the war ends, we cripple them for a peacetime career by applying peacetime standards to wartime performances... peacetime standards that we just, in effect, said weren't really that important anyway.

Which means what? They aren't important in peacetime either, truth to tell. They just give us easy ways to cull the herd without having to do the hard job of writing proper evaluations - we just inflate 'em and let this objective standard be a weed whacker, because remember - a good looking fit gets by soldier is better than a high-performing fatso who can pass a PT test.

Just sayin'.

I invite your comments...

Ya wanna read the actual message - it's in the Flash Traffic/Extended Entry.

Flash Traffic (extended entry) Follows... »


Reading the "Yowza!" post below, I went to check the nearest Chinese restaurant to see if #82 and I needed to keep a wide berth of said place.

I said berth, not girth, people.

The Chinese restaurant close by doesn't have prices on the menu...

So I know I can't afford it.

But I didn't see any dangerous looking ideographs or such.

I have endeavored thus far to eat Korean cuisine for dinner. Breakfast I've been doing the continental thing at the hotel. So far I've done a couple different forms of Korean barbecue and other traditional stuff (even the kimchi, Fuzzy), and except for a vegetable which passed this westerner's GI tract apparently unchanged, everything has gone down well and come out just fine.

I am surrounded by western eateries, however. Burger King, Pizza Hut, Church's Fried Chicken...

And I promise that I have resisted the temptation to eat here...
McD's in Seoul's Central City Bus Station

Or here...
Dunkin Donuts and Baskin Robbins in Seoul's Central City Bus Station

Or here.
KFC and Outback in Seoul's Central City Bus Station

Who knew Colonel Sanders had such tiny hands?

Introducing *Canis Scrup'lis*

Heh. Punctilious is posolutely absitively sure that she's got the definitive representation of a scruple.

Punctilious' Scrup'l

Ummm--not quite.

Just in case anybody's operating under the misapprehension that I've got a pack of pink felines lording it over the demesne when they're not skittering through the blogwall to plot the annexation of the blogosphere, I figure it's past time to introduce the miscreants.

Loose Scrup'ls

The furry 55-gallon drum with legs in the foreground is Scout.

At left rear, Muffy the Merciless is sizing up the deer across the street.

Jake is center--he actually *does* have a right ear, but he's got this knack of pointing it straight back whenever he hears something interesting but can't be bothered to actually look.

KC is the ambulatory Brillo pad in search of the cookie she figures is somewhere behind Door Number One.

And this is as close to a formal portrait as it gets. I was lucky the squirrels were raiding the bird feeder at Ed the Neighbor's, otherwise this would just be a shot of gaussian blurs with teeth...


Some of the best Chinese cuisine can be found in Seoul, John. This, however, may require a bit too much of your still-maturing chopstick skills. Bon appetit.

March 23, 2006

H&I Fires* 23 mar 06

Open post for those with something to share, updated through the day. New, complete posts come in below this one. Note: If trackbacking, please acknowledge this post in your post. That's only polite. You're advertising here, we should get an ad at your place...

I'm going to bed. Yer up.


Hello Folks - Sorry to be a fair-weathered Denizen as of late. Things have been a wee bit busy on my end.

In any case, Isn't it great that our NCO Corps is far more professional than in other countries. I once heard the term: "There's going to be kneecaps up to A** Holes"; but this one takes the cake. Now Pvt., go fetch me a night table, so I can break it upside yer head!!! - BOQ


Get your gourmet beef jerky at House of Jerky (through that link only), and they'll donate $10 to Soldiers' Angels for every pound you buy. They also offer 15% discounts for shipment to APO addresses (Jerky is the #1 food item requested by deployed soldiers).

Holly Aho has three stories about Soldiers' Angels in action. - Fuzzybear Lioness
Castle Contrarian Jack has the first in a series of what seems to be provocative (to say the least) in an essay about America, it's culture, and the changes brought on by GWOT. Worth the read.
A warning. Take your heart pills and hypertension meds BEFORE going over there.
And a request: don't go ballistic and frothy mouthed in the comments. Jack is one of us after all and so we shouldn't treat him shabbily. ---ry

Flash Traffic (extended entry) Follows... »

by Denizens on Mar 23, 2006 | General Commentary
» Don Surber links with: Dinosaurs Still Can Bite

What's odd about this blimp?

Hosting provided by FotoTime

Make your guess.

Then click here.

Did that change your mind any?


Okay. Click here.

Betcha thought it was more like this, dincha?

by John on Mar 23, 2006 | Aircraft

Just in case you missed it...

Another Army Staff weenie got his Legion of Merit. We're changing names, because, well, it sounds all transformative and different!

Major Army Command (MACOM) Structure

What is it? This Army Campaign Plan adapts Major Army Commands (MACOMs) and specified headquarters to reflect the most effective, efficient command and control structure for supporting the Modular force. This decision defines three headquarters; Army Command, Army Service Component Command(ASCC), and Direct Reporting Unit(DRU). The term MACOM no longer properly defines current and future Army Commands or their relationship to Army Service Component Commands and Direct Reporting Units. The definitions align responsibilities of these headquarters to the Department of the Army and Secretary of the Army and assign theater support relationships and responsibilities.

What has the Army done? This decision establishes

• Three Army Commands:
- Forces Command (FORSCOM),
- Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC), and
- Army Materiel Command (AMC);

• Nine Army Service Component Commands:
- USARCENT (Third Army),
- USARNORTH (Fifth Army),
- USARSOUTH (Sixth Army),
- USAREUR (Seventh Army),
- USARPAC (United States Army Pacific),
- Eighth United States Army (EUSA),
- United States Army Special Operations Command (USASOC),
- Surface Deployment and Distribution Command (SDDC),
- Space and Missile Defense Command (SMDC); and

• 11 Direct Reporting Units:
- Network Command (NETCOM),
- Medical Command (MEDCOM),
- Intelligence and Security Command (INSCOM),
- Criminal Investigation Division Command (CIDC),
- United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE),
- Military District of Washington (MDW),
- Army Test and Evaluation Command (ATEC),
- United States Military Academy (USMA),
- United States Army Reserve Command (USARC),
- Acquisition Support Center, and
- Installation Management Agency (IMA).

What efforts does the Army plan to continue in the future? The Army will synchronize the efforts for establishing, manning and equipping Army Commands, ASCCs and DRUs through the force management process. The Army will continue to refine headquarters' missions, functions and responsibilities through the revision or establishment of General Orders and Army Regulations. Doctrine will be published to properly articulate command and support theater relationships as well as Title 10 responsibilities.

Why is this important to the Army? This decision accomplishes three objectives; it recognizes the global role and multi-disciplined functions of the three Army Commands, establishes the Theater Army as an Army Service Component Command reporting directly to the Department while serving as the Army's single point of contact for a unified combatant or functional component command, and acknowledges Direct Reporting Units as the functional proponent at the Department of the Army level. This also enables the Army to set the foundation for gaining better effectiveness and efficiencies by transforming its business processes while operationally focusing the Theater Army to combatant commands.

I knew you wanted to know. I just did.

March 22, 2006

H&I Fires* 22 Mar 06

Open post for those with something to share, updated through the day. New, complete posts come in below this one. Note: If trackbacking, please acknowledge this post in your post. That's only polite. You're advertising here, we should get an ad at your place...

More proposed airline fees to enhance the old revenue stream. Some of you will be gratified to find your suggestions from the earlier thread on the subject have been addressed.

Aviator souls laid bare...

Good night and good morning to those of you in yesterday... -Tired Armorer

Bald Eagle offers up his thoughts about being the husband of one of our favorite deployed female Soldiers, Grey Eagle. *tissue alert* ~AFSis


A blonde woman was speeding down the road in her little red sports car
and was pulled over by a woman police officer who was also a blonde.

The blonde cop asked to see the blonde driver's license. She dug
through her purse and was getting progressively more agitated. "What does it
look like? She finally asked.

The policewoman replied "It's square and it has your picture on it."

The driver finally found a square mirror in her purse, looked at it
and handed it to the policewoman. "Here it is," she said.

The blonde officer looked at the mirror, then handed it back saying,
"Okay, you can go. I didn't realize you were a cop."

- Barb


Here's an interesting bit of realpolitik from the Left Coast:

In short, there is no hope of a short-term escape from our current predicament. The Pentagon might as well stop leaking information about how it's preparing for troop withdrawals — which is what it's been saying since the spring of 2003. Every such leak emboldens our enemies, discourages our allies, decreases our political leverage and makes all sides in Iraq less willing to rely on U.S. security guarantees.

Who'd a-thunk the LA Times would stop dipping the Op-Ed page in Kool-Aid? - cw4(ret)billt

Flash Traffic (extended entry) Follows... »

by Denizens on Mar 22, 2006 | General Commentary

I need a joke before I head to bed.

A Ukrainian woman married an American gentleman and they lived happily ever after in North Carolina.

However, the poor lady was not very proficient in English, but did manage to communicate with her Husband.

The real problem arose whenever she had to shop for groceries.

One day, she went to the butcher and wanted to buy Chicken legs.

She didn't know how to put forward her request, and in desperation, clucked like a chicken, and lifted up her skirt to show her thighs. The butcher got the message, and gave her the Chicken legs.

The next day, she needed to get chicken breasts.

Again, she didn't know how to say it, and so she clucked like a chicken and unbuttoned her blouse to show the Butcher her breasts!

The butcher understood again, and gave her some chicken Breasts.

The 3rd day, the poor lady needed to buy sausages.

Unable to find a way to communicate this, she brought her husband to the store...

(The rest is in the Flash Traffic/Extended Entry)

Flash Traffic (extended entry) Follows... »

Cannoneer Zen

Especially since it makes Infantry duck and tankers go into at least "open protective". And that's the ones on your side.

A Marine 75mm Pack Howitzer artillery emplacement on Bougainville-Dec1943

Some Redleg Marines having a moment of gunner zen on Bougainville, December 1943.

I will leave it open for the snarks sure to emanate from the CANZSTAAC* Denizens.

Flash Traffic (extended entry) Follows... »

by John on Mar 22, 2006 | Artillery

March 21, 2006

H&I Fires* 21 Mar 06

Open post for those with something to share, updated through the day. New, complete posts come in below this one. Note: If trackbacking, please acknowledge this post in your post. That's only polite. You're advertising here, we should get an ad at your place...

Heh. This is a little weird, setting this up right before I go to bed, but it's early morning for you guys...

WASHINGTON — The House of Representatives is on track this year to be in session for fewer days than the Congress Harry Truman labeled as “do-nothing” during his 1948 re-election campaign.

I may be in a minority here... but getting out of the bubble and among the people - if that is in fact what they are doing - is to me preferable to causing pointless mischief passing legislation just to be seen doing it. Your mileage may vary - and my opinion holds true regardless of which party holds power in any component of any branch of government.

Heh. This strikes me as hitting at the heart of the DPW fiasco. Hiring contractors to do security screening validation. This bears watching - but at least they're talking about it in the open, and the DPW brouhaha might give this issue some traction. It strikes me as an inherently governmental function. Hire the people you need to do the job- or at least enough to directly supervise the contractors providing the service.

Punctilious wants you to know:

Carnival of the Recipes #83 has been posted at One for the Road.

Stop on over and check out all the yummy things to eat this week.

If you would like to host a future carnival send an email to recipe.carnival(at) with the word host in the subject line.



Christopher Hitchens engages in some wishful thinking about the past, crowned by this bit of patented Hitchens Righteous Fury:

We could have been living in a different world, and so could the people of Iraq, and I shall go on keeping score about this until the last phony pacifist has been strangled with the entrails of the last suicide-murderer.
- Fuzzybear Lioness


Uhhh--*belated* Birthday Alert! Attention, all Denizens--stop what you're doing and visit Boston Maggie's to give her a big *smooch* 'n' hug. And the Denizennes will want to visit just to see why she keeps giving the Emirati Chamber of Commerce free plugs... --cw4(ret)billt
Gun related news:
Being armed to prevent genocide a fundamental human right
Someone with a law degree heard you Sanger, and agreed. Indeed.
In GWOT news:
Are we getting our lunch eaten in the InfoWar use of the internet?


Michelle Malkin interviews Mother Sheehan. -Sleepless in Seoul


With the rash of recent news showing people converting to Islam (New MSM tactic maybe?) it begs the question: "What happens when someone converts from Islam to Christianity.

Well. 'pears they get sentenced to die. At least in the Middle East

Now there's a slogan for ya. "Join us or die".

Flash Traffic (extended entry) Follows... »

by Denizens on Mar 21, 2006 | General Commentary
» A Rose By Any Other Name links with: Remember
» The Yankee Sailor links with: More Sailors to Serve Ashore in Iraq
» Don Surber links with: Bush Embraces His Doubting Thomas
» links with: Someone important?

Insomnia in the Land of the Morning Calm.

Seoul@4AM local.

Seoul at 4AM.

By the way - you're looking at the future. This is tomorrow morning for you guys...

Something Old, Something New

Granted, some of 'em are antedeluvian, but there are enough new entries to make it chucklesome. And maybe there's a young lady in Seoul who'll need further enlightenment on the subject of:

You Might Be A Redneck If...

1. take your dog for a walk and you both use the same tree.

2. can entertain yourself for more than 15 minutes with a fly swatter.

3. ...your boat hasn’t left the driveway in 15 years.

4. burn your yard rather than mow it.

5. think The Nutcracker is something you do off the high board.

6. The Salvation Army declines your furniture.

7. offer someone the shirt off your back and they don't want it.

8. have the local taxidermist on speed dial.

9. come back from the dump with more than you brought there.

10. keep a can of bug spray next to the ketchup on the kitchen table.

11. ...your wife can climb a tree faster than your cat.

12. ...your grandmother has "ammo" in the top five on her Christmas list.

13. keep flea and tick soap in the shower.

14.'ve been involved in a custody fight over a coon hound.

15. go to the stock car races and don't need a program.

16. know *exactly* how many bales of hay your car will hold.

17. have a rag for a gas cap.

18. ...your house doesn't have curtains -- but your truck does.

19. wonder how service stations keep their restrooms so clean.

20. can spit without opening your mouth.

21. consider your license plate personalized because your father made it.

22. ...your life goal is to own a fireworks stand.

23. have a complete set of salad bowls and they all say "Cool Whip" on the side.

24. The biggest city you've ever been to is Wal-Mart.

25. ...your working TV sits on top of your non-working TV.

26.'ve used your ironing board as a buffet table.

27. A tornado hits your neighborhood and does $500,000 worth of improvements.

28.'ve used a toilet brush to scratch your back.

29. missed your 5th grade graduation because you were on jury duty.

30. think fast food means hitting a deer at 65.

Heh. H/t to 29charly.


This is the morning view from the window of my lofty perch.

This is the evening view.

Today was spent recovering from jet lag (heh, it's jet *push* going this way) and reconning the Yongson Garrison, where we'll be meeting and greeting people tomorrow. Making sure we kind of know our way around so if we run into an unscrupulous cab driver (not yet, 5 cab rides so far) we can argue with him, but more importantly, getting a sense for the time it takes to move around the area so we can be where we need to be *when* we need to be.

My traveling companion Pete was disappointed to find out that the suit-maker at the Yongson PX had upped his prices. In fact, Pete's spent enough time over time in Korea he was a little surprised at how much closer many prices were to stateside prices than he remembered.

We went to the Electronics Mart (a block of city space given over to electronics and myriad vendors, large and small) where Pete did score some memory for his laptop.

After doing our leader's recon, we headed back to the hotel to catch up on email, do some prep for tomorrow, and work on those tasks that haven't disappeared just because we're in Korea...

Dinner tonight was at a Korean restaurant in the attached shopping center. The place was part of the Shinsegai department store and called... Hoorwon I believe. We sat at a table with a gas burner in the middle and ordered Beef with mushrooms and noodles stew - which was prepared at the table. I allowed the locals to titter behind their hands at my total lack of chopstick skillz - which worked to get the very pretty waitress to offer lessons. Hah. You think there is no method to the madness... I still suck at it, but I'm not wearing too much of the food, and I got hovered over by a purty young thang. What's not to like?

I also tried Sooju, a local hard liquor. Potent, but deceptive. Didn't like it enough to try it again, however - unless it was just that particular brand.

In this part of Seoul you almost have to take a taxi to get to 'genuine' Korean cuisine.

But you can find this kind of place all around. Which is not surprising - since it's my favorite restaurant in Kansas City (an opinion SWWBO does not share) it was only natural I would find it here - without looking.

Hosting provided by FotoTime

It's *also* a part of the attached shopping mall. Which had these odd fellows guarding the entrance - or perhaps they were there to secure the World's Largest Bronze Simulacrum of a Ball of Twine. It could also be a nekkid baseball... I dunno.

I *did* perform my first true consultative service (albeit gratis) in Korea. While Pete and I were wandering the supermarket in the basement of the shopping center (very much like Harrod's Food Stalls - full of the familiar and exotic) I was stopped by a young Korean woman who enquired if I was an english-speaker. She knew I was a hairy barbarian, but didn't need a german one. She had a question about a play script she was reading for a class - the scene was about parochial school, and has a character talking to another one about his grades. The phrase in biggest question was "Ah, I see by your marks you sat in the back of class." A comment which, based on her experience of assigned seats in class, confused her.

I explained the type of student in American educational institutions who *prefer* to sit in back. A light went on, she brightened up, and then said, "Ah! The rest of this now makes *much* more sense!"

We all went on our merry ways.

Is this not cool?

Destroyer of Task Force18 bombarding Kalombangara and New Georgia Islands

Night color shot of a Destroyer of Task Force18 bombarding Kalombangara and New Georgia Islands. Woo-hoo! Get some, sailors!

March 20, 2006

H&I Fires* 20 Mar 06

John is still in the air on his way to S. Korea. We are finally having winter here in Leavenworth - how are all the rest of ya?


My interview with Basil is up! Now you can visit his place to find answers to queries such as: When you *flounce* or *swoon* at the Castle, do you first insure your petticoats won't hang up on the mangonel? What was the Valour-IT project startup experience like? and... What would you say is the single most serious issue facing the United States today? Hop on over to Basil's Blog to find the answers!

I'm sensing an interesting tone in this article about women and firearms...

The Washington Times charges for the privilege of quoting it. Huh? Guess they'll be sending the goons to collect on me. - Fuzzybear Lioness


RINO Sightings! -The Very Tired Armorer.


Today's the third anniversary of the kickoff of Operation Iraqi Freedom. How are the GWOT sandbox vets who have assumed the role of full-time college students faring in academia? For those of you who might be in the neighborhood of NYC's Columbia University tonight, the Columbia MilVets are holding a panel discussion in Earl Hall kicking off at 2030--oops, sorry--8:30pm. 117th and Broadway on the Columbia Main Campus. Point of contact is Todd Murphy (

H/t to Eric. --cw4(ret)billt

Flash Traffic (extended entry) Follows... »

by Denizens on Mar 20, 2006 | General Commentary
» Don Surber links with: An Army Of Little Goliaths


As I suspected, I can’t sleep, even in a fancy seat. Farkin’ sleep apnea. I got bumped up to First from Business when I bought the ticket. Business is full, First is only about 2/3rds. I’m not complaining, mind you. I’d just hoped, since I’m personally eating the cost differential of the coach fare in order to be able to walk when the airplane lands, that, just maybe, I’d be able to sleep.


Ah, well, 1/3rd of the way through the flight and I’ve watched The Legend of Zorro, and a Korean film, Typhoon, and right now, I’m listening to Korean music (not bad, nice voices, even though for all I know they’re singing “Yer a big fat ugly tribble-with-legs…” Sounds good, who cares?

The Korean movie was interesting, very much wrapping up all the pathologies of a family-oriented people like the Koreans who had a proud history, then got raped by the Japanese, played for pawns in the power politics of the Cold War by both sides and are still living on a peninsula with a farking huge barrier across it. The amount of military architecture between Seoul and the DMZ is amazing. I don’t think I’ll be where I can get any pictures, but if I can (and do so without bringing security down on my head, I’ll get some generic opsec-safe shots, just to see what sorts of things the Koreans have lived with for 50 years now. Warning – I’m not an ethnographer, nor do I play one on TV.

The weirdest part of the movie was listening to White Christmas being sung in Korean.

Precis: The South, in the mid-70’s, early 80’s sent propaganda balloons north, encouraging the people to emigrate. Myung-Sin finds one of these balloons, and the message, and takes it to his father, who buys it and arranges with some shady Chinese to get out of North Korea, and seek asylum in the Austrian Embassy. For reasons I’m sure were a lot clearer that the sub-titles admitted to, the South refuses the request for political reasons, and the family is returned to the North Koreans, where Bad Things Happen, and the only survivors of Sin’s family are he and his sister.

Myung-Sin becomes a pirate. With the burning goal of vengeance. On the South. Sparing you the Great Powers Are Manipulating Us thread, Sin arranges to acquire a bunch of missile guidance/trigger systems, by ambushing a covert DIA (yes, DIA) vessel trying to sneak them to the Taiwanese. With Russian mafia help, he acquires 30 tons of Chernobyl radioactive debris , fits it all to balloons, with the intent of sailing off the southern coast and releasing the bomb-laden balloons on the South – thus using balloons to kill a bunch of South Koreans and balance the books.

If you're still reading - the rest is in the Flash Traffic/Extended Entry.

Flash Traffic (extended entry) Follows... »

by John on Mar 20, 2006 | General Commentary
» basil's blog links with: Picnic 2006-03-21

March 19, 2006

SGT Whiskey

Name Muffy - call the roll.


name Whiskey...

name Whiskey...

name Whiskey...

hzzz. big-tribble-with-legs strike name Whiskey from watch list. hzzz.

He got his name because he was a licker. And he enjoyed his work. We told people he was a Jack Daniel's terrier.

SGT Whiskey, member of the Exterior Guard with additional duties as Toe-Licker-In-Chief has passed to "Piddler's Green," the Rest Stop next to Fiddler's Green where Furry People go to await the arrival of their follicly-challenged hy'umans. He's in good company, preceded there by Sebastian, Little Guy, and Mickey. The Oklahoma Canine Cohort has completely passed from the Demesne.

Whiskey, dammit boy, come home!

Now is the time at Castle Argghhh! when we dance sing a soul to the Great Hunting Ground and Tennis Ball Chasing Facility.

Fare thee well, thou good and faithful friend.

Great farkin' gobs of spittle, I *hate* entropy.


After yesterday's suckitude with Whiskey passing in his sleep, today has been only marginally better - in that no one has died.

Started out as well as it could with the large empty space on the bed, and not feeling a warm friendly head against my legs.

We got to the airport on time.

Then it went mildly south.

First leg, out here to San Francisco, was on Midwest. You may remember them as Midwest Express, a semi-luxury airline centered in... the midwest. They had business-class seating and food for slightly more than coach fares. They could even bid fares low enough to capture government travel.

9/11 almost killed them, but they adapted and survived. Some of those things I posted about last week are already true on Midwest - buying meals. $5 for a scone, cheese, breadsticks, yogurt and some fruit. Not bad, really, and nothing to cause distress while flying. Unlike SWWBO's experience with the Really Crabby Flight Attendant, no such problems surfaced on the flight.

That said... they had a broken aircraft this morning, and were swamped at check-in, having to reprocess that planeload of passengers bags, with no one providing any guidance. Finally fight through that to find that they don't have an agreement with Korean Air, which means I have to claim my bag here in SFO and schlep it over to KAL in the International Terminal. Oh, and it was 52 pounds - so they suggested I unload two pounds so they don't have to charge me for overweight luggage.

Bemusedly, I comply. I looked at the young lady handling the bags and said... "You do realize that the net weight of the aircraft hasn't changed one ounce, correct?"

She said, "Yep, I know. Go figure."

Granted they have decent legroom, but their seats on the "Saver" routes (vice the routes where they still have business-class seating) suck. My back is killing me already, after only three hours in the air....

We get here, and my bag, which was brand-new less-than-24 hours-in-my-possession, was spindled and mutilated by them. It's still serviceable, but the wheels don't track straight any more...

Sigh. At least coming back, via LAX, I'm going to be on the nicer aircraft from a seat perspective.

I'm in the hoity-toity people's lounge waiting for boarding (the Armorer doesn't spend *all day* on planes in coach if he can avoid it) and my back is killing me.

Only 15 hours to go... time to break out the aspirin. Bemusedly, most of the people in here are sleeping. I wonder what they know that I don't...

See ya on the other side.

Dammit. I miss Whiskey. And SWWBO, *always* SWWBO. I just know that unless I *really* screw up, she'll be there when I get back.

Whiskey won't.


Meanwhile, in other news...

...the US Navy gets back to its roots. Get some, Sailors! CDR Salamander is *just* itching to say "Land the Landing Team!" and storm the new Barbary Stronghold.


Even with improved body armor, training and tactics, some injuries are unavoidable. Worse (or better depending on your view), due to the improvements in these items and medical treatment, many injuries are survivable, but leave indelible marks. Not all of them are physical. In this case, a soldier literally suffers from the fog of war.

Three years ago, in the war's first month, Piper became one of the now more than 17,000 U.S. troops wounded in action. A grenade blast in Baghdad mangled his right eye, collapsed his right eardrum and slammed his brain against the inside of his skull.

In a conflict where explosions account for roughly two-thirds of Army combat wounds, and improved body armor and field medicine increase chances of survival, brain injuries such as Piper's are common.

At home in southeast Georgia, he drives his pickup truck, and even took a recent ski trip, despite having no depth perception after losing his eye. In public, he pops his prosthetic eye in and out of its socket without self-consciousness. He hears fine with the help of a hearing aid.

Yet his doctors tell him at least 80 percent of his short-term memory has been destroyed. (...)

On April 13, 2003, less than month after U.S. troops crossed the Iraqi border, Piper was leading his six-man team in a hunt for weapons and munitions in southern Baghdad.

The sun was setting outside a library building where the soldiers had discovered a stockpile of small arms and mortar rounds. Piper stood outside, deciding which building to clear next.

A car passed on the street. Someone leaned out the window and lobbed a grenade, announcing an ambush with an explosion a few feet from Piper's back. The blast flung him five feet, sprawled facedown behind a Humvee.

"I didn't feel any pain or anything like that, but I saw this huge halo of blood in front of me," Piper recalled.

He reached to feel his right eye, but his hand slid straight to his ear. It felt like the side of his face had been flattened, the bones of his eye socket pulverized.

Amid the fighting, two soldiers grabbed Piper to rush him to a medivac helicopter. He insisted on giving them his ammunition and grenades first. En route to the nearest field hospital, he blacked out.

He's coping as many men and women have done before and after him. Read the rest on The Fog of War.

In another excellent article, soldiers talk about their memories of Iraq: the look, the feel, the smells and the tastes.

The heat, which is like living under a french-fry lamp, like standing in front of the world's biggest hair dryer, like sitting in a sealed car on the hottest summer day in Washington with the heater blasting and someone throwing sand in your face.

The mud, which follows the hot season, cold, slimy, sticky mud that makes you wish it would turn hot again.

The green that erupts after a spring rain and astounds you the first time you see it. The blue of the timeless sky above and beyond all the troubles. The black of the inky desert night, thickly dusted with stars and galaxies.

The eyes of the children.

These are some of the things they remember from their service in Iraq.

Washington Post interviewed 100 men and women to get their memories of Iraq. It's worth a read.