Wednesday, May 25, 2011


It's summer and I cannot get over having graduated from the Academy.  I have the elated feeling of someone who has slipped, skidded, slid, and landed with a thud at the end of a long journey and poised to begin another one with a lot more drive, focus, vision, and purpose.  My last week at the point I ended up getting 20 hours of tours - which I served - and had one final regimental S-4 task that really snuck up and sucker punched the hell out of me.  But both experiences made me feel really alive afterwards.  In fact my last walking hour was right after the banquet on Thursday.  I put on my white over gray uniform one more time for punishment and under arms went to central area.  There were still classmates and parents and officers trailing out of the mess hall.  Michelle Obama had left already, but it was only ten after nine when I started.  So, with the breastplate glinting on my chest and my scabbard at my side and my saber on my shoulder I walked the best hour of my life.  I don't really know what it's like to lose endless weekends for that sort of thing, although it really threw a wrench in my graduation week plans, but I had the sense of paying my dues.  That night I got weird looks, raised eyebrows, shouts of encouragement, one raised fist alongside a "Keep fightin' the good fight" and the inevitable two questions, a knowing "How many more?" and a perplexed "Were you here the whole time?"

It's a week, it's a day, it's a moment I will not forget.  And graduation was a blur, it was the commissioning ceremony afterwards that I really appreciated.  The Law Department all being JAGs and mostly being officers arranged a small and intimate ceremony on the lawn of the one of the homes on "Colonel Row" that overlooks the Hudson River.  They are officers who really care and they had a profound impact on the way I see life.  I kept nearly all my law books, and will definitely stay in contact with those former professors.  Now that I have a moment to pause and reflect... I have the feeling I am sitting on a wide open plain and I can mold this landscape into something that reflects who I really am.

I haven't had any nightmares I'm back at West Point yet, but I've heard of recent graduates having them.  I am happy, but trying really hard not to be a nuisance to anyone.  I am somewhat homeless until July 6 when I have to be back at West Point to help with land navigation training through August 8.  While a lot of graduates go home, it's a long drive back to El Paso and I'd like to do some traveling.  I just want to make sure my car and belongings are looked after while I'm gone.  If I didn't belong to a greater organization I would be a little more carefree, but I have that commitment and responsibility so I cannot simply run amok.

Unlike my friends who are doing full blown Euro-trips, I am going to be stationed in Germany next year and so I am more interested in just going wherever the wind blows me this next month and a half.  I've been talking about the space-A military flights for a while, and I'd like to give that a shot soon.  As soon as I organize my personal stuff better in my car than it's been... I'll figure out when and where I can politely hand off my car and I'll be on my way for another adventure that is unique and rewarding.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Same Shit. Different Day.

I packed one box.
I still have my TA-50, but receiving conflicting instructions.
Started to sort my clothes.
Threw away some stuff.
Picked up my ASUs.
Cleared out (nearly) the basement lockers (basement cat is pleased).

Now still have to finish packing to ship stuff tomorrow.  Then throwing away loads of stuff, and picking up my dry cleaning.  I'll take care of the foreign travel allowance, and I'll hopefully get some clearance signatures.  The next two biggest things are nice sucker punches from West Point before I graduate.

Finishing 20 hours this week.  I knocked out 5 on Monday, 3 today.  So I have 12 left and 3 days to do 'em.  And I have 16 cots signed to my name, and I'm not sure how much they cost, but I may have a fee to pay West Point just to graduate and what really sucks is the cots are all probably here... just no one is willing to find them.  I looked around to see if there were some lying around and there are... so worst case scenario I'll scrounge a few... and hopefully only have to pay for 10 or something.  My cots aren't where I left them.  The room has been cleared out, and my investigation hasn't been conclusive yet.  Oh well, it's less than it would have been if I had been responsible for 75 cots, thank goodness.

Four days:  gotta focus on the bright side.  Bright side. Half full.  So close....

Sunday, May 15, 2011

I KNow...

I know I should have packed my boxes already...
I know I should have turned in the TA-50 I won't need...
I know I should have picked which clothes I'll need for OBC and which ones can go into storage...
I know I should have created a much bigger throw-away pile...
I know I should pick up my dry-cleaning...
I know I need to take care of my foreign travel allowance paperwork (which I just found out about)...
I know I should finish those last graduation announcements...
I know I should make dinner reservations...
I know I should clear out my basement lockers...
I know I should finalize my summer plans...
I know the above includes budgeting...

but it's really really hard to concentrate >.< when graduation is this SATURDAY!!!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Very Important yet Leaves me Uncertain

First of all... I do not agree with a lot in this blog.  I definitely think it is valuably thought-provoking.  I am sorry I have not posted this response sooner.  Besides digesting all this information, I do also after all have a graduation to think about.  This is the article: 

I would like to point out a couple criticisms before I move on to my analysis of what is important from this article.  First of all, the news references are nearly all from Fox news, which is well-known for a conservative bias and I can see how watching them would give any liberal plenty of ammunition.  The second criticism is the comparison of war to sports, as though a sport as a metaphor for war was unique to America.  I'm sure Mr. Ethan Casey would agree that the world's most popular sport of football (or soccer as we say in America) has just as much if not more exuberant cheering and uber-patriotism than a Super Bowl game.  One of my acquaintances from Brazil compared Americans having taken out Osama bin Laden as Brazilians when they win the World Cup.  Another example is the way the world uses important sports as symbolism for a lot of things:  the location of the Olympic Games for example, or the World Cup to go back to that example. Anyway, that's not to say that Mr. Ethan Casey's point about patriotism and nationalism doesn't stand, but I think in haste and perhaps just personal taste he chose to knock down American football fandom, which seems a little unfair in context with what the story appears to be saying, in my opinion at any rate.  However I think his personal taste comes out when he calls the country song God Bless the USA ugly.  I think that many Americans would probably find a lot of Pakistani music annoying and repetitive, but it's really not the point, is it?

Moving on, I know that oftentimes it seems like blogs are a competition to walk the middle ground.  There are many bloggers fighting to write scathing articles on any display of emotion on any side.  Or else it's just 'hipsters' trying to make everything seem passé.  I am just trying to write a blog to evaluate all the information coming at simple me from 360 degrees.

I completely disagree that expressing happiness at the death of Osama bin Laden is the sign of future fascism.  I don't think that it should sadden or alarm anyone that Americans were happy, hell, we were relieved!  Imagine how frustrating and to add, embarrassing, it was to invade Iraq and not find the weapons of mass destruction we foretold.  We did find incredible caches, but unfortunately not quite what the media had predicted, so it looked like and felt like failure.  We were also frustrated when our President then said we would get Osama bin Laden and many a year a news station would point out that Osama was still out there, making the occasional taunting or encouraging video to his followers.  These conflicts have been a bit of a bungled mess, and I don't think it's off the mark at all to say they were poorly-executed initially.  We went in guns blazing expecting conventional warfare, however this is a new era of conflict, and conventional war is more and more difficult to achieve.  Think of how prolonged fighting has gone on in spite of how quickly peace treaties were drawn up after invading both Iraq and Afghanistan.

So taking out a man who was absolutely anti-America even when Arab nations wanted American help to fight the Soviet Union, is a good thing.  To say we should have been more careful is hardly justifiable given that we took him out with a precision team as opposed to a drone bomb.  I don't think America would have taken him out with a bomb had it been possible at this point because it is so valuable to secure complete confirmation that he is dead.  Osama bin Laden was the founder of al-Qaeda, the organization responsible for the 9-11 attacks.  The problem is there is no doubt that those were attacks on American soil.  Huge attacks if you think about it.  So the correct course of action according to all existing information was war.  Think how quickly the world reacted to that.  But what could we go to war against?  Ever since we pursued military action in response to the 9-11 attacks, the term was popularized - and has remained the most popular term in spite of the attempt to rename it as Overseas Contingency Operations - as the Global War on Terror.  I have been skeptical and annoyed at this reference since its conception.  I can only now explain why.

Ever since the codification of the customary laws of armed conflict, we have obeyed some sort of rules of war.  Even when war became the huge all-consuming destructive force that mankind had never seen before in World War I, it was still re-confined, left and right limits more and more succinctly defined, by the humanitarian and pragmatic international legal experts and national leaders of that era and beyond.  From a humanitarian perspective you want to protect people whose fault it isn't that war exists and who are vulnerable to the effects of war.  From a pragmatic perspective, if everyone were to use their worst weapons today, the world would be a toxic, unlivable wasteland.

The current laws of war apply to wars with ends, and wars between "High Contracting Parties".  The very problem with the Global War on Terror is who is the enemy?  How long, where, and to what extent, should Coalition Forces be allowed to use military force?  And if it's a global police action, is it really war?  Peace-enforcement operations of the last decade have shown that casualties are a risk in unstable parts of the world regardless what name you give the operations.  But what rules should apply?  Should we be allowed to target anyone part of the group we are hunting?  Can we afford to go wherever these non-state actors appear?  Shouldn't that be part of normal state actions anyway?  Securing the nation, shouldn't that be standard protocol, not a state of war?

So, all these points are interesting and this article made me think of that.  I still don't agree with this article.  I don't think the American reaction to this specific news is bad, but I think that overall after a decade the American people would want a better definition of our military goals, and what exactly we are trying to do at this point.  If we are nation building, to what extent are we obligated to nation build?  And if we are trying to extricate ourselves from that responsibility shouldn't we acknowledge the rule of law that governs military occupation and state sovereignty?  If it isn't a responsibility whatsoever, than how can we politically bring this conflict to an end without offending our allies?  There needs to be an end-state that doesn't appear to favor only the United States.  The world is in a precarious place right now, and today is a time like any other to review our actions for the last twenty or thirty years and reevaluate how international interactions should be governed.

Sunday, May 1, 2011


A lot of realizations this first day of May... (of course this entry is after midnight).  I am glad to hear the news that Osama bin Laden has been 'neutralized'.  I am content at the moment to just be happy about it.  There was an excited still in the air earlier today before any announcements were made... given this is a military post (besides the historical Military Academy) I wonder if somehow the news travelled faster than the public announcements would have us believe.  At any rate, we cadets found out the same way as any citizen... in my particular case I was in the library when I heard a stir and someone shouted down the stairs,

"It's on CNN!  Osama is dead!  We got him!"

I tried google search but it wasn't there yet, I had to open CNN news live.  It was a good feeling.  I know there's a lot of aftermath, controversy, politicizing, etc. but right now... just gonna be happy we took out an important face to terrorism.  All other issues can afford to wait a couple days after that sort of news.  It's a good morale boost for America who has been looking just as beat up as the rest of the world in the face of economic issues, security problems, political bickering, and military entanglement.  I was glad to see some wholesome patriotism tonight.