Sunday, January 08, 2006

My Call To Duty

Less than 24 hours until I mobilize to Ft. Jackson.

It is a sad day around the house, as I try to savor the remaining time I have with Marya, David, and Precious, our half-pit, half-boxer puppy. More than ever before, I have to remind myself of why I decided not to try to get out of this deployment, even though the Army offered all involuntary activated IRRs (Individual Ready Reserves) the opportunity to resign their commission rather than deploy to Iraq.

First, regardless of whatever one believes about how we got into this war (a process I'm still extremely comfortable defending), it is now the central front in the War on Terror, and a fight we must win. After 2.5 years working on the Iraq desk at the Pentagon, I still firmly believe from the many Iraqis I've met, and the horrifying videos of Saddam-era torture that I've seen, that we are helping the Iraqi people.

Second, if I don't go, they will make someone else go in my place, and I can't in good conscience put a rifle in someone else's hand and ask him to fight for me when I'm still physically able.

Finally, although it absolutely breaks my heart to miss David's first year, thousands of other servicemen and women have already made a similar sacrifice. If we only had an Army of orphans and bachelors we'd been in a pretty sorry shape. And I believe that if we do not do everything to defeat the terrorists in Iraq now, I'm afraid my son will be fighting them again in 20 years.

Lest I seem too noble, remember, I wasn't exactly pushing people out of the way to get to the front of the line at the recruiting station. It is unlikely I would have ever volunteered to be called back to duty and serve in Iraq. And in some ways, this is less dramatic than it seems. Once the Army figured out who I was (Harvard PhD, former Strategic Planning Director for Iraq at DoD, Director of Speechwriting at the NSC, 92% lifetime winning percentage in Stratego), I received emails from MNSTC-I, General Casey's staff, and Embassy Baghdad notifying me they wanted to bring me on board. So in essence, I'll be travelling half way around the world and taking a 50% pay cut to do essentially the same work I've been doing the past two years,only now with people shooting at me.

In the end, I have no doubt that I am doing the right thing. But this is a harsh reminder that the right course and the easy course are seldom the same.