Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Reasons to be Angry

Sorry for not posting much lately. I've been busy on a potentially major project, and have been a foul mood about a couple of things lately.

Okay, two things really.

First, I received my first ass-chewing from a senior officer a few days ago. (And yes, I realize that anybody who served with me in the 82nd Airborne back in the 90's is asking "What took him so long?") I was locked up, had a finger pointed in my face, and essentially told that I had no business exercising independent judgment on the issue at hand, and that I should "get on board with the team and accomplish the mission." As soon as the senior officer left, one of my officemates immediately played the soundbite from Full Metal Jacket in which the Marine General tells Pvt. Joker to "Get on board for the big win!"

The other four people in the room immediately approached me to tell me the senior officer was out of line, and that if I wanted them to submit statements supporting me they'd be more than happy to. (Since then, I've also been vindicated on the factual points that were in contention). In the end, I'm not going to get in any trouble for this confrontation. But this incident reminded me of why I originally got out of the Army back in 1998, and I have to dig deep to find the discipline to let the dispute die its natural death.

Second, on Saturday the LA Times published a story about the details of my friend Brian's death. I'm not pissed at the LA Times, but rather at the Army for not getting these details straight much sooner. It is bad enough that Brian's family has to suffer the pain of losing someone as special as Brian, but they now have reason to question every statement the military makes regarding the attack.

Everybody assumes that the uncertainty and ensuing controversy surround Pat Tillman's death a few years ago was to serve some militaristic propaganda agenda. No, the Army just screwed up, just like people in every other organization in the world are prone to do. And somebody in the chain here in Iraq screwed up royally by not releasing the correct details as soon as they were known. These errors are inexcusable, and undermine the credibility of the public affairs effort in the War on Terror, whether in Iraq or Afghanistan.

More importantly, the families of heroes like Brian Freeman deserve better.