Reflections on Iraq

“The enemy is your greatest teacher.”

In May of 2015 I received my honorable discharge from the United States Army.

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I gave up my freedom so that I could become a guardian of it.  I endured many nights of loneliness where I would go to sleep and wake up at odd hours of the night, completing tedious training.  Whether I was exercising in the morning or cleaning my equipment, my mind was always elsewhere.

My deep thought got to me overseas where I spent many nights alone, waking up at midnight to publish an intelligence report on enemy activity so that all of my fellow soldiers had not only the most current information, but the best analysis to avoid enemy contact.  I took every single characteristic from an attack and quantified it to come up with some sort of reproducible method to predict the enemy’s movements.  I read intelligence reports that President Obama himself would also be reading, coming up with all sorts of adjustments to keep the enemy guessing.

You could say it was a game, but my pieces on the board were live humans.  It was almost thrilling at certain points when I would watch live predator (a type of drone) feeds over areas that I frequently would spend hours trying to formulate a strong, sensible analysis on enemy activity.

I wanted to learn more about the area so that I could make better predictions about enemy activity.  I asked my superior if I could go on local patrol missions in order to meet and understand the Iraqi citizens and their perspective.

I successfully completed some mandatory training that required you to put on body armor, a helmet, and a pair of goggles that were duct taped to make you blind.  After you wore all of this equipment, you would stand by a pool where someone would spin you several times quickly to make you dizzy.  Then they would push you in.  In the pool, there would be an instructor who would put a breathing device in your hand.  You had to use the breathing device to breathe underwater while removing your body armor blind and dizzy.

Anyway, I ended up spending some quality time on a Blackhawk, enjoying the view of the country from the sky.

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Above is a picture I took from a Blackhawk.  I wish I had taken pictures of Baghdad, but here’s a good picture of the middle of nowhere in Iraq.

At any rate, I can’t really divulge anymore information as it isn’t declassified as of yet.  But let me just end this post on one final note.

One afternoon when there was a pretty long rocket attack, I got out of my bed and curled up on the floor of my trailer (which I shared with 3 other soldiers, none of whom were there because I worked at nights).  I entered a moment of clarity, which could easily have been a moment of insanity.  I began to laugh to myself, not hysterically, but pretty loudly.  I stared up at the ceiling and decided that if I died right then and there, my life would have been pretty much useless.  My parents would have been half a million dollars richer, but besides that, I would have been very dissatisfied.  No soldier should ever have to think twice about whether or not his life was worth anything as he’s about to die.  That’s why I vowed when I came back to the United States that I would openly fight and advocate against wars that do not have anything to do with our freedom and security.

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