Friday, May 11, 2007


It's official.

The extension came down about three days ago. We were called to an emergency formation at about 0900, at which point the company XO gave us the news: Extended 90 days. This means I'm stuck in this stinking shithole until possibly December. Another Thanksgiving, another Christmas without my wife, without my friends.

Anne took it poorly. Like myself, she had an inkling this would happen, but when the FRG called an emergency meeting to pass out the information, I'm told that the room was filled with a slew of angry, sobbing wives. My wife related to me, with unusual disdain, the story of the local Chaplain spouting hollow platitudes about The Mission, and our importance to it. It seems they had little effect on her--from the moment she picked up the phone for my daily call, she was sniffling; her voice cracked and hitching.

The days are hot now, and the mortars slowly getting closer to our motor pool. I'm working longer hours than ever, and with all the work I have to do after-hours--mailroom, weapon-maintenance, et cetera--I feel like I barely have time to breathe anymore. I don't know how long it's been since I could hear myself think. I keep wanting to write, but at the end of the day sometimes it just feels like a chore. I haven't even written a new poem in over a month.

Daily affairs in the world, it seems, continue apace. Bush swears to "stay the course," vetoes any bill that comes out against the war; the American people issue their halfhearted cry for a withdrawal. Iraqi parliament representatives argue for a timetable while simultaneously demanding a two-month vacation. And as all this occurs, the locals continue to murder each other in cold blood, pausing only to shell my motor pool or take potshots at the guard tower just east of my housing trailer.

I grow increasingly cynical, and lately it seems as though there are none who are exempt from my deepening rage.

My command chain strips us dry of morale and resources, driving us further into the ground with every passing day. My countrymen, 300 million strong, remain powerless to stop a group of perhaps five or ten men, felons and nepotists all. My news outlets feed me more party-line bullshit from the men in power about how this is a "battle against evil" and how "God is on our side" (sound familiar?) My fellow soldiers blithely accept their lots, standing silent as their marriages crumble and their privacy dwindles to nothing.

And for what?

So we can bring "freedom" to a people who so obviously seem to want it neither for themselves, nor any of their neighbors. Barbarians, opportunists, fanatics, spies, and savages, the lot. I am powerless to fathom how a people can collectively act against every SINGLE impulse of reason or compassion which might present itself.

This is a failed state. A failed culture. A dead civilization comprised now only of mummified skin, dried by years of sand and wind, barely clinging to the sun-bleached bones of a once-great Mesopotamian empire. This, this is what we fight for. This is what my classmates die for. This is the cause for which I neglect my faith, my principles, my family, and my partner. This dessicated carcass, this cratered wasteland; a place whose strongest sensory markers, for me, are the smells of human shit and burning garbage. A place whose flag will one day bear the initials of KBR. This I defend, along with the egos of a few paranoid old men.

I joined up believing I could make a positive difference. I believed that, even if I didn't fully support the cause, that I could set a positive example for Americans abroad. I am beginning to see now that I was gravely mistaken.

Fuck this miserable place. Fuck Iraq, and everything in it. You can't rescuscitate a corpse, so stop trying to perform CPR. Better to let it rot in the sun.


Blogger TheUsualSuspect said...

Dude, awesome blog. Hope you know I'm linking you man.

And nice headline. Good ol Tool. Til next time, peace man.

12:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

reminder- world war II soldiers were gone for years-you put the uniform on you serve with honor- you may disagree with the politics but it is your job and you do the best you can- eating your self up like this will do NO one any good
esp yourself or your relationship with your peers- I understand these are different circumstansis -
but this is the way of the life you chose when you signed on the line. If your marrage was stong to begin with it will stay that way.
Iraq is probably a lost cause but I am sure there are good people there who do appreciate you and are fearful of a withdrawl of us forces
as that is just what the bad guys are waiting for so they can unlease hell on innocent civilians.
God Bless you and fellow soldiers
stay strong

1:11 PM  
Anonymous Anne said...

Anonymous, the bad guys werent there until we were. People are lining up at the borders to enter Iraq for the opportunity to kill Americans, and they remain there because we do.

To compare this conflict to WWII is to wear blinders to reality. Milo signed on the line to defend his country, not to invade and occupy a soverign nation that never attacked us. Please dont use that pitiful excuse to deny him the right to be angry with his situation. He and everyone like him has been used and wronged.

I thank you for your encouragement, and please take a moment to re-examine your resignation to this situation. We shouldnt have been there, we shouldnt be there still, and remaining there will only compound the problem.

(Sorry to all the grammar freaks out there, Im typing on a Czech computer)

7:53 PM  
Blogger David M said...

Trackbacked by The Thunder Run - Web Reconnaissance for 05/12/2007
A short recon of what’s out there that might draw your attention.
This is the Weekend Edition of the Web Reconnaissance it is updated periodically throughout the weekend as time and family permits.

1:55 AM  
Blogger cinnabari said...

WWII, my happy ass. We aren't fighting other nations. There are no borders for us to defend. What foreign army can surrender to us? To whom do we surrender? We're the invaders, this time.


I'm sorry as hell this is happening. Most of the 300 million is blithely indifferent and unaware of what's going on. They think stickers on their cars is enough support. Some of the others are more interested in stirring up bigotry and political venom than in your lives. Still others have the most bizarre idea of the military, and think you're all superhuman heroes beyond reproach, who deserve praise and all the money Congress can vote for you and how dare we question The Commander-guy (yes, he called himself that. I think he thinks he's commander of the whole US now, not just the US armed forces. If we had to have a Caesar in our lifetime, could it've been Augustus and not freakin' Nero??).

Feh again.

I wish I could do more than write letters or post comments in this blog. For what it's worth--my thoughts are with you and Anne, and my prayers (Heathen and free of platitudes) that you come home safe.

(Anne, I wanna know where you got a Czech computer... that sounds far too cool to this language geek)

6:20 AM  
Anonymous Anne said...

Psst...Cinn...Im in Prague and I cant find my apostrophe kez.

Suffice it to say the Prague International Marathon whooped my butt.

1:42 PM  
Blogger Sean from DocintheBox said...

Man, I feel for you guys. Army's having it tough right now, hang in there, remember the most important thing about being out there is making it home.

9:11 PM  
Blogger The Hackademician said...

Men seek retreats for themselves, houses in the country, sea-shores, and mountains; and thou too art wont to desire such things very much. But this is altogether a mark of the most common sort of men, for it is in thy power whenever thou shalt choose to retire into thyself. For nowhere either with more quiet or more freedom from trouble does a man retire than into his own soul, particularly when he has within him such thoughts that by looking into them he is immediately in perfect tranquility; and I affirm that tranquility is nothing else than the good ordering of the mind. Constantly then give to thyself this retreat, and renew thyself; and let thy principles be brief and fundamental, which, as soon as thou shalt recur to them, will be sufficient to cleanse the soul completely, and to send thee back free from all discontent with the things to which thou returnest. For with what art thou discontented? With the badness of men? Recall to thy mind this conclusion, that rational animals exist for one another, and that to endure is a part of justice, and that men do wrong involuntarily; and consider how many already, after mutual enmity, suspicion, hatred, and fighting, have been stretched dead, reduced to ashes; and be quiet at last.- But perhaps thou art dissatisfied with that which is assigned to thee out of the universe.- Recall to thy recollection this alternative; either there is providence or atoms, fortuitous concurrence of things; or remember the arguments by which it has been proved that the world is a kind of political community, and be quiet at last.- But perhaps corporeal things will still fasten upon thee.- Consider then further that the mind mingles not with the breath, whether moving gently or violently, when it has once drawn itself apart and discovered its own power, and think also of all that thou hast heard and assented to about pain and pleasure, and be quiet at last.- But perhaps the desire of the thing called fame will torment thee.- See how soon everything is forgotten, and look at the chaos of infinite time on each side of the present, and the emptiness of applause, and the changeableness and want of judgement in those who pretend to give praise, and the narrowness of the space within which it is circumscribed, and be quiet at last. For the whole earth is a point, and how small a nook in it is this thy dwelling, and how few are there in it, and what kind of people are they who will praise thee.

This then remains: Remember to retire into this little territory of thy own, and above all do not distract or strain thyself, but be free, and look at things as a man, as a human being, as a citizen, as a mortal. But among the things readiest to thy hand to which thou shalt turn, let there be these, which are two. One is that things do not touch the soul, for they are external and remain immovable; but our perturbations come only from the opinion which is within. The other is that all these things, which thou seest, change immediately and will no longer be; and constantly bear in mind how many of these changes thou hast already witnessed. The universe is transformation: life is opinion.
-- Emperor Marcus Aurelius, The Meditations Book Four.

9:28 PM  
Blogger Larry said...

Great blog and excellent post. Nobody can tell what it is like unless they have actually lived it.

Kudos to you.

1:52 AM  
Blogger toadman said...

I agree Anne.. this is not WWII.. this is much, much different. This is a losing and wasteful battle for nothing.

I support the troops, that means, I want them home. If they have to fight, make it for something meaningful.

7:08 PM  
Blogger Mike said...

I understand a soldier's rage at his government for putting him in such an unwinnable hellhole. What I don't understand is why he expresses no rage at the fact that he and his/our country are the ones who created this same hellhole. He shows distain, not empathy, towards Iraqis. I think that's wrong.

1:06 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

hi there,not much to say except reading your blog has just humanised the american soldier to me. i hope you get back to your home safe and sound inshaallah, and that you get to see your wife and family soon.

asalaamu alaikum

10:25 AM  
Blogger iamcoyote said...

I'm so sorry, Anne and Milo. I remember this feeling well from the first gulf war. It's hard not to feel rage at the destruction - and at the country that seems to be holding you hostage. Just don't lose yourself in it. That would be a waste. Take care, guys! We're listening.

2:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Man oh man have I been in your shoes Milo. There are a lot of us here that wish we could do more to bring you guys home to defend OUR COUNTRY. Not someone else's who could care less if we are helping or not. The Iraqi government has made it clear all they want is our money.

Anne, I feel for you dear. One of the hardest jobs in the world is being a military spouse.

7:15 PM  
Blogger Spc. Freeman said...


Shuk'ran ja'zelan. Your words mean more to me than you can know. Shuk'ran ja'zelan, for reminding me that, whatever side of the Wire we inhabit, we are all still human.

Be safe, inshallah.

Wa'al alaikuum al'salaam.


7:21 PM  
Blogger Hayden said...

there is nothing I can say that you've not already said. thank you for posting, stay safe, stay strong. the prayers of this peace-marching atheist are for you.

3:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Asalaamu alaikum Milo,

Jazakhaallah Khair'an for replying,but the thanks are really all felt on my side. for putting your private thoughts and experiences out there for people to read and see and learn from. I was shy to say too much before and words sometimes get in the way, strip everything down, we are all humans, may God never let me forget that.

I was touched by your post and i realised that though you arent my brother in faith, you are my brother in humanity. and one cant wish evil for their brother.

i only ask for good for you and anne.

Please post often, this blog reminds me the world isnt black and white - i cant pretend i didnt read it and still think and react the same way as before.

Asalaamu alaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatahu

12:32 PM  
Blogger simonsays said...

Thank you ---- for what you are doing, and for a rare look into how it works. I'll pray for you. Stay safe. Jamie

6:52 PM  
Anonymous BobKincaid said...


As you gaze at Ur, let these words be your companion:

"He who has seen everything, I will make known to the lands. I will teach about him who experienced all things alike,
Anu granted him the totality of knowledge of all. He saw the Secret, discovered the Hidden.
He went on a distant journey, pushing himself to exhaustion,
but then was brought to peace."

So is described, in the world's oldest story the world's first man who dared to demand and seek for answers, for this is the opening of "The Epic of Gilgamesh," composed in places where you have stood.

The first human hunger for knowledge, for understanding, was born in that hot and hellish land and the same questions asked by Gilgamesh, the same journey falls daily behind you in the Iraqi dust of ages.

Because you think, because you walk with your eyes open, you are transformed. And we are the better for it. You give strength to those at home who grow weary, and think this war cannot be ended,, that their cries, their protests are in vain. You prove, Milo, that the protest is real and worthy.

Many thanks! Be as well as you can and as safe as you can.

4:51 PM  

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