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March 28, 2004

Calling: Candidates Bush and Kerry

Learning from the past, looking to the future.

Candidates Bush and Kerry,

Because the "electability" question has, once again, bamboozled Primary-Voting-Americans ability to put together a cogent question set which would have allowed us to better vet the candidates, I accept that one of you will be taking the Presidential Oath of Office in January, 2005. Therefore, I feel compelled to make sure that November-Voting-Americans receive an opportunity to better understand what we might expect from each of you, as head of the executive branch, as the American Head of State, as Chief of the Government, and as head of the U.S. military -- Commander in Chief.

Questions are forthcoming.

March 28, 2004 at 09:16 AM | Permalink | Comments (36) | TrackBack

March 25, 2004

Kerry wants my vote? Well ...

Until we start asking, and the candidates start answering, the right questions, I can't know which candidate of any party is worthy of my vote.

The questions start here:




March 25, 2004 at 03:36 PM | Permalink | Comments (5) | TrackBack

March 20, 2004

Round peg, square hole

Tom Barnett writes:

Meanwhile, Army force planners, who spent the 1990s dreaming of a big-time shoot out with the fabled “near-peer competitor,” are steering the big bucks toward such heavyweights as the Stryker fighting vehicle (19 tons with heavy armor) and the much-anticipated Future Combat System, which will replace our current 70-ton battle tank sometime around 2010. How many of these behemoths does the Army need in the Global War on Terror? Tough to say, unless you see the occupation of Iraq as a far more likely scenario than massive armored column battles. The Army went into the Iraq occupation stating they need just over 300 armored Humvees for the job. Right now the latest estimate sits somewhere north of 10,000.

March 20, 2004 at 07:51 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 17, 2004

A Brief History of Camp Lancer

385 visitors in 96 hours, or...

connecting people and places and lives and loves.

2136 hrs 2004 March 7

When my son, Philip, deployed to Iraq, we all understood it might be 4-6 weeks before he'd be able to contact us. We got lucky today. He was able to make a brief call to his wife, letting her know his unit is now in place - Camp Lancer at Bayji. That's all we get for now. And for now, that's enough.

Tonight the candle burns a little brighter.

Thanks, Monika. [Week3: Camp Lancer at Bayji - Shiny Glass Beads]

So now I read the news a little closer.

0810 hrs 2004 March 13

I open Google News. The lead story reports 2 soldiers killed.

I started my morning with Google News today, and upon reading my son's newly arrived unit lost two people yesterday, realized within seconds how close to home this terrifying war is. My head is still spinning. My heart? Well, it seems like my heart is always hurting these days. Hence, this blog. Perhaps connecting people and places and lives and loves. Maybe, just maybe. [Maybe, Just Maybe]
Adrenaline kicks in, this is no good. I stop reading and put on water to make tea. I slip in to a breathing meditation while the water heats.

After tea, I call Monika in Germany, not mentioning what I had just read.

I called Philip's wife Monika in Germany a few minutes ago. He was able to call yesterday, saying that phones are available now and that a 30 minute phone call once a week seems possible. Other than that, not much to report - as of yesterday he hadn't left the confines of Camp Lancer.

I'm sending him email now to see if we can get him blogging. [Week 4: Camp Lancer at Bayji]

Philip and I had agreed on trying to blog his experience in Iraq late last year. However, the service provider hosting the domain and blog tools unexpectedly went out of business just before he left, and we didn't have time to get another up before he deployed. So I quickly created the Camp Lancer Weblog.
I dedicate this weblog - Camp Lancer Weblog - to the memory of two soldiers from 1st Battalion, 18th Infantry Regiment, killed yesterday in Tikrit. I do not know their names yet. But soom I will. And so shall you.
March 13, 2004
TIKRIT, Iraq -- A roadside bomb killed two U.S. soldiers and wounded four today, a day after the military said two other soldiers died in a similar explosion elsewhere in Iraq's so-called Sunni Triangle.

The soldiers killed today were patrolling in an armored Humvee when a roadside bomb exploded in Tikrit, the hometown of deposed President Saddam Hussein, said Army Capt. Tim Crowe. The soldiers were not identified. They were from the Army's 1st Infantry Division's 1st Battalion, 18th Infantry Regiment, which is taking over security in the Tikrit area today. [Launched: Camp Lancer Weblog]

And then I waited.

In Sunday morning's email, the details begin to arrive.

And so shall you.

13 March 2004

My Company Commander, CPT John F. Kurth, was killed at 0500 hours. SPC Wood, a recent rehabilitative transfer from C Company was also killed. 3 other soldiers were critically wounded and were flown to Lahnstuhl, Germany. They were in a three vehicle convoy of HMMV’s (High Mobility Multi-wheeled Vehicles). The mission was to clear the route of IED’s (Improvised Explosive Devices) placed along the route during the night. They missed one, it did not miss them. The cowards sneak out at night, dig holes, and leave bombs in and on the sides of roads. They use explosives, 155mm and 105mm Artillery shells, 60mm Mortar shells, grenades, mines … you get the fucking point. The bombs are remote or radio detonated, they prefer to target the middle vehicles of convoys (usually where the senior ranking officers are), or light skinned vehicles.

CPT Kurth, also known by his peers as Hans, was a West Point graduate. Soldiering was a labor of love for him. He is worth several hundred thousand dollars, probably more. He owns land, including an apartment building that generated a healthy income. His heart wanted to be a soldier, not the savvy businessman his bank account reflected. In a world of excess, he was the picture of moderation. He drove an early model Blazer that smelled of mildew, and stayed dirty from his frequent romps through the training area. He would walk barefoot through the company area to use the showers, until the XO gave him a pair of 99 cent flip-flops the CO was too cheap to buy himself. I constantly pressured him to take his European Motorcycle Test. He has a Harley Davidson 1200 Sportster he bought from a soldier, it is in storage, he has never ridden it. The one luxury he afforded himself, and he never got to play with it. Saba liked him. He would always stop what he was doing in his office to pet her. He was the best Company Commander I have had in 11 years of service. He lived in his office for the last 8 months before we deployed to Iraq. He spent every day reading after action reviews of the units that were here before us. He was present at every range, and supervised every training event the Company did. He wanted to make sure that every soldier got the information they needed to survive. He was a true warrior. He developed the Bushmaster Fighting Program which taught every soldier hand to hand combat tactics. He could bench press over 300 pounds, run a marathon, and road march farther, with more weight than anyone in the Battalion. Everyone knew beyond a shadow of a doubt, he would win any knife or gun fight he got into. He was the embodiment of the Warrior Ethos. He will be remembered.

I did not expect to have this happen yet. It has only been six days. I do not want to upset anyone, but this is the reality of the mission here. This incident will help my soldiers to focus on what is important to them. I do not know if I should describe the details like this. I do not know how I expect you to react. Try not to worry about me specifically. That is not my intent by telling you this information. I am the Commander of a Bradley Fighting Vehicle, I am a subject matter expert on the employment of my weapon, and it is a big ass piece of metal with reactive armor. Shit Happens beyond our control. I do not feel like writing anymore today.

Philip Jarvis


Section Leader [And now I have names]

I am weepy the rest of the day. Tears flow from ancient wells, merge with new streams.

The next day, Monday, another email.

Note: SPC Wood was not transferred to B Co. SPC Jason Ford was killed in the assault on CPT Kurth's HMMV. There was a SNAFU that I will avoid in the future. My apologies.

16 Mar 2004

Hello, It was a better day today. We conducted a SIR (Surveillance, Intelligence, Reporting) patrol in sector this morning.  We went to a place known as [edited out]. I don't know why the outgoing unit nicknamed it that, but I believe it has to do with illegal arms trafficking in our sector.  Anyhow, it is an interesting little road. It is directly next to the Tigris River. We saw a large black plume of smoke coming from from the far side of the city last night as we returned from FOB Omaha. I guessed that someone sabotaged the oil refinery and we would be receiving an alert to investigate. That was not the case. The river actually caught on fire.  There is so much oil dumped into the river that it actually burns.  It appears that the Iraqis are ill-equipped to deal with these fires.  Hell, I can't even recall seeing a fire station while on patrol. Anyhow. Yesterday was a hard day for us. My soldiers and I packed up in the Hummers and went to FOB Omaha for the memorial service for CPT Kurth and SPC Ford.  (The initial report said it was a soldier named Wood)  It was a very dignified ceremony that helped us deal with the loss.  I talked with the squad leader who was the TC (Truck Commander) of the vehicle behind CPT Kurth when they were attacked.  He said that they went down the road that 4ID told them not to travel at night.  SSG Paulos is not a guy who likes to be told to stand down.  When they were told that there was a road that the Iraqis have a firm grip on, I cannot imagine CPT Kurth and or SSG Paulos just rolling over ignoring it. I bet that our unit won't travel it again at night without Bradleys. Another NCO, SGT Kalous, who was in the Hummer when the IED (Improvised Explosive Device) was detonated, had to have a foot amputated just below the knee.  He was riding with his foot dangling out of the door, another TTP (tactic, technique, and procedure) that 4ID said not to do.  If he had kept his foot inside the door frame (there are no doors on that Hummer), he might still have his foot.  SPC Press was the driver.  He is the soldier saluting in the picture I am attaching.  He received some lacerations to his right arm and some other minor injuries.  The radio in between him and CPT Kurth saved his life.  He is taking it pretty hard. My soldiers are more focused now because of this incident.  They looked 200% more professional and aggressive while outside the wire today.

If you guys want to send stuff, hard candy is good, beef jerky is better. Ramen is also good, but canned Chili is better. Chips Ahoy! are good, homemade Bundt cake is better. (just kidding, homemade chocolate chip cookie are better). A snub nose .38 would be nice, a Glock 9 better. just kidding. This could go one for a long time. The stuff I really miss can't be put in a box.  Samuel Adams will taste that much better after this. Smokey Bones BBQ ribs, nuff' said.  I cannot even describe how it will feel to
hold Monika in my arms, pet Saba, or twist the throttle of my Harley. I will take the time to enjoy every single luxury that I encounter. But most of all, time spent with the people I care about will have more meaning to me. The minute hand on the clock is the fastest item in any house.  After
this, I will have over 29 months deployment time away from Monika.  It has come to my attention that THAT is entirely too damn long. I am going to be an Army Recruiter.


Philip Jarvis
Section Leader [Corrections and Reflections]

The posts are only part of the story. There are comments for all, and email exchanges that, sacredly shared, are forever quietly kept from view. It is now 10pm, Wednesday night. This blog is barely 100 hours old, but I feel like it's been here forever.

Thanks for listening.

March 17, 2004 at 11:29 PM | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Really Important Books by Guys Named Tom

I'll list my Really Important Books by Guys Named Tom in alphabetical order.

The first author is Tom Atlee. Tom Atlee wrote the Tao of Democracy. You should buy it now. Then you should read it. Yes, read it, you should.

The second author is Tom Barnett, aka Thomas P.M. Barnett. Tom Barnett wrote The Pentagon's New Map. And yes, you should buy it now (Amazon or Barnes & Noble). By the time you get it, you'll have read Tom Atlee's Tao of Democracy. That is, if you buy it today like a good citizen would. Heh.

C'mon now. What are you waiting for? For less than $40 you can understand 'why globalization' and have a way to make it work for everybody. How cool is that?

March 17, 2004 at 05:39 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

9/11 and 3/11: Social Chaos or Social Transformation?

Tom Barnett considers the following question from Bryan Preston:

2. Why do you think the Bush administration has done such a poor job of explaining its strategic thinking and plans to the American public and the world?

The Bush Administration is dominated by Cold War strategists who continue to view the world largely in terms of great powers and the security relationships between them. To their credit, they recast most of their thinking with 9/11, embracing a willingness to enter the Gap with an abandon that makes the Clinton Administration and its so-called mania for nation-building seem almost quaint in comparison (imagine Clinton trying to sell a Republican congress on "transforming" the Middle East with military invasion!). But their continuing tendency to speak in almost exclusively hard-power terms leaves much of the world worried about an expanding U.S. military "empire." Then there is the Bush White House's self-defeating habit of almost absurd vindictiveness regarding those who oppose them-to wit, the asinine "forgive Russia, ignore Germany, and punish France" formulation following those nations' resistance to our invasion of Iraq. That sort of pettiness only raises the end costs of the inevitable multilateralism that must ensue if we really want to succeed in the end.

The bigger problem is this: getting the American public and the world to realize that different security rule sets define the Core and the Gap, and that the only way we're going to achieve real security in the age of globalization is to eliminate disconnectedness by making globalization truly global. The Bush Administration has the courage and the vision to wage a global war on terrorism, but until they can enunciate that global future worth creating, they will continue to be viewed by much of this country and the world as primarily a war administration, a war president, and a war without end. To leave that much fear out on the table on a constant basis is to invite distrust, and distrust kills your ability to communicate your intentions effectively. Today, there is no such thing as war waged strictly within the context of war.

The Bush Administration has not yet demonstrated in their words or deeds how the global war on terrorism fits within the larger context of globalization, but they're getting closer with their initiatives and ideas regarding the integration of a "greater Middle East" with the rest of the world. Given a second four years, their continued evolution away from their Cold War roots might yield some very great outcomes. Then again, their penchant for vindictiveness in foreign policy could isolate them beyond hope in a second administration, leading to a serious fracturing of the Core.

This White House is in a tough fight right now, and a mudslinging election, even if won, does not bode well for their ability to conduct a more successfully multilateral foreign policy in their second iteration. And they'll need such success if their dreams for a transformed Middle East are to come true. America cannot integrate a Middle East all by itself, and if real integration does not ensue, this war will go down in history as a completely wasted effort.

Consider the whole interview: http://www.thomaspmbarnett.com/interviewMar04.htm

9/11 and 3/11: Social Chaos or Social Transformation? We've been looking at this question for a good bit of time:

The Year 2000: Social Chaos or Social Transformation? by John L. Petersen, Margaret Wheatley, Myron Kellner-Rogers

Scenarios Facing Year 2000 in SMART Letter #7 - May 15, 1998 by David S. Isenberg

U.S. Naval War College Year 2000 International Security Dimension Project (this project is scheduled to be moved from the NWC site to Thomas P.M. Barnett :: Projects

Social chaos, or social transformation? The choice is ours to make.

March 17, 2004 at 10:14 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 14, 2004

And now my son blogs

Camp Lancer Weblog

March 14, 2004 at 08:32 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 11, 2004

Oh, yeah!!

Lisa Williams writes in the Weblog Wishlist Manifesto:

A wishlist communicates a vision of how we want life to be, and what we think just might be possible.

March 11, 2004 at 11:34 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 10, 2004

Supporting Gay Marriage

I am one of the twelve Hull Democratic Town Committee members who voted Yes to draft and send the following letter to Garrrett Bradley supporting Gay marriage:

HULL, MA 02045

March 9, 2004

Representative Garrett J. Bradley
State House
Boston, Massachusetts

Dear Representative Bradley:

At a duly constituted meeting of the Hull Democratic Town Committee this evening, it was voted to inform you that a two-to-one voting majority of those present believes that the decision of the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts in November, affirming the marriage rights of all citizens of this Commonwealth, should be upheld. We do not believe that civil unions are the equivalent of marriage under the law. We, therefore, ask you - as our standard bearer in the House of Representatives - to vote in favor of those amendments at the constitutional convention to convene on Thursday, or any other venue, that uphold those rights to equality, and to vote against any amendments that run counter to our expressed vote.

As people who have worked hard to ensure your election to the House, we know that we can count on you to assert the rights of all citizens in the Commonwealth, and not to codify discrimination into the Massachusetts Constitution.

Respectfully yours,

Joel Gagne


Note to self: Create a category for my voting record on motions brought to a vote at Hull Democratic Town Committee meetings.

March 10, 2004 at 05:03 PM | Permalink | Comments (13) | TrackBack

Calixte's comments

I'll come back to this conversation soon:

Which means, initiatives like Blogafrica or Geekcorps might be well inspired to look for writers and story-tellers: Africa is FULL of story-tellers, most are articulate, have travelled in western countries and would be more than willing to learn few online tricks in order to get a broader audience. [At least, that's the strategy I want to focus on in the immediate future.]

As for the key issue you raise - "Can we expect democracy to emerge from Internet communities in countries where political activity is constrained and the Internet is censored? Or are we assuming that these democratizing technologies are only applicable in places where democracy and accompanying" rights of free expression are already well protected? - I really do believe free speech by itself is not enough: it's an essential part of democracy, it's not the only one. If you share this view, you share the limitations of my own expectations: - it's already GREAT that internet community centers and webcafes are multiplying on the african continent it wasn't the case back in 1998! - It's already GREAT that free online services like Blogger allow people to publish for free! - it's already GREAT that people like allAfrica and Geekcorps are willing to help develop an africa-focused web community.

Until then, I'll be thinking about system level bindings.

March 10, 2004 at 02:52 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack