Thursday, September 27, 2007

Something is missing

You know, somewhere in the course of this war, things changed for us; for Charlie Battery. It was once about the soldiers, about the needs of our guys on the road and the guys here on base. At some point in the last couple months that changed and it is so upsetting, I don't even want to write about it.

When we first started our missions, things were busy. We would come to work and hear of the dangers our guys encountered the night before. We would read over the reports and ensure everyone was alright. We would shutter at the damage these massive bombs did to our armored vehicles and thank God our guys were okay. Some of the vehicles were so badly damaged they were turned to scrap metal. As long as everyone was okay, it didn't matter really. If things were unsafe on the road, they were told to stay put.

A couple months ago we started being rewarded with banners that tell others of our achieve-ments. Most bombs found, most days without being injured, most days without vehicles breaking down and many, many more. Charlie Battery took almost all of them that first ceremony. That's how we are, that's what we do.

When you care for your fellow soldier like a brother, they will follow you into battle as a brother. You fight for them, they will fight for you. No matter if you agree with this war or our president, here and now we fight for the man next to us. We fight so we may all go home and get back to the lives we left when we came to the front lines.

These banners, these bragging rights and medals are not about taking care of our soldiers, not looking after our brothers. It is about numbers, it's about being the best at all costs and about losing sight of the reason we were so great in the first place. When we come to work in the morning we still ask if anything bad happened.

Now however, the first thought isn't about the well being of our soldiers, it is what award we will not get this month. It's not about them staying put because of unnecessary risks to the safety of our men. It is about not moving enough goods. It is about not driving as many miles and how that won't look as good on the description of accomplishments on awards or the fact that another unit will get a banner in a ceremony that we wanted.

When our guys encountered bombs before, the first question was always, "Is everyone okay?" Now it refers to whether we found it or if it blew up on them. Now the response on a bomb blowing up is more about ratios and tic marks and the fact we need to find one more to get ahead of the other units. In the darkest moments, it has even been glad to hear a bomb blew up on another unit so their numbers will go down. There are many times I am appalled and disgusted to be a part of this. Our priorities are so messed up, it has lost the humor.

I have often admitted envy of our guys on the road and without a doubt that is true. I often wish I could be out there with them. Even out there though, the worst part about this war, about being here, isn't battling our enemy; it is battling each other.

My pride, my devotion is tested not by the burdens and hardships of this war, but by the selfish arrogance we have adopted. We have given up the thing that defined us most, the thing that made Cold Steel the envy of all who know us.

We have lost our heart.