There's this war you may have heard about......
Hi / Hello, is this Chairborne Stranger from http://life-around-town
I'm doing great, actually-no worries here.
How long have you been in Iraq, and when do you think you might be getting the heck out?
I've been in Iraq over three months and I will be here at least 9 more months-everyone in the US Army does 12 months at a minimum, usually a bit more.
How tricky is it to know what you can write and not write on your blog? Do any military people actually police it or is totally a common sense thing?
It is very tricky. There are guidelines that are vague-because the military is still sorting it out. There are obvious no-nos-don't write about current operations, secret or classified information, weapons capabilities, specific information to where you live or what your job is, who you work with, ongoing investigations, incidents that will embarrass the US or the Army, basically follow common sense. No pictures of obvious things.
The military does police things-my command checks my blog monthly and the miliitary has a whole group of people that check blogs, emails, and such regularly.
Is it weird that your job has so much politics behind it? Does it affect your daily work? I can't imagine if there were totally massive debates the world over on whether I should be working as an IT guy for a particular company or not.
I never thought of it that way before. The politics are the politics. I knew when I volunteered my job is not to question where I go or what I do. It is my job to insure the politics don't affect my daily work and that I focus on the mission at hand. Sometimes soldiers talk about the politics, but for the most part, we are worried about day to day life here or staying in touch with our friends in the US, etc. I have had one or two political discussions since I've been here, and those were more academic than anything.
So no it doesn't affect my daily work, or those around me, life in Iraq is too screwy to worry about politics!
So, what are your day to day tasks?
Hmm, this one is tricky. I do the basic things any soldier does in Iraq. Work with military equipment, weapons, and do soldier things in a war zone, along with the Iraqi Army who fight beside us. We aren't supposed to talk about specifics of our jobs-but I do the regular Army stuff--convoys, patrols, cleaning weapons, staying in shape by working out, planning.
Are you in the Army for the long run? Do you have mates that are doing other things that you wish you were doing?
I have been in the Army for over 12 years, so that pretty much makes it the long run. I have mates doing awesome things around the world, but so am I. I guess it depends on what day you ask me! I mean my friends are doing things I wish I was doing, mainly on the social side of life, becuase life in Iraq does put a damper on your dating calendar.
Even though most countries have had lots of information about the war in Iraq, it is mostly debates and should/shouldn't we, and what are the real motives, etc. I don't think anyone around here really knows what it's about. What are the actual goals? What are the insurgents goals?
Well the military goals in Iraq-provide for a safe and secure Iraq, and to insure the Iraqi Security forces are able to provide this safety and security so American military forces can leave.
Insurgents goals--I have no idea-I know they have propaganda-the only goal they seem to have is to kill people.
Your blog really does totally stand out, and because it is written with freakin' bagloads of maturity and honesty, I find it hugely compelling to read. What is your motive? Is it to share the stories, to inform us, or is it more personal, a place for you to get things out of your system? Are you writing with anyone in mind?
It started as an email list to a few close friends and family--now it is probably all of these things. A friend suggested starting a blog, instead of email, but now some of my friends still want the email, because they aren't tech savvy!
So it started as me writing down all kinds of thoughts about what I am doing to inform close friends and family, and that is who I am writing to, first. A plus is, that it is very therapeutic and allows me to clear my head at the same time. I find the blog keeps me from posting a few things due to the public forum, so I may have to start a journal as well or send more emails.
Since I started the blog though, I figured it is my story, not some journalists, and I can do a better job writing about my story in Iraq than some of the stuff I've seen in print. So now when I write on my blog, I do think about everyone who will read it, and it really fits nicely, that I can write what I want to my friends and family while also trying to give my perspective on Iraq to anyone that reads.
Do you have any good mates to hang out with? What does one do with their time off in such a crazy dangerous country?
Like anyone in the military will tell you, I came here knowing no one, and now I have made many friends for life. I have lots of good mates to hang out with. Time off is a bit trickier-my camp is a bit limited, but I am fortunate to have easy internet access, which is a big plus. Other big things to do in time off--read, watch movies (we can order books and movies by post), sleep, work out, play cards, sleep, did I mention sleep? It can get quite boring, only because it feels like you are living in a prison camp, since moving around and doing what you want is too hard in Iraq, and staying on camp is about your only option.
Thanks heaps Mr Chairborne Stranger, do you have any words to leave us by?
Gosh, thanks for showing so much interest, and really, I hope this helped. The US Army does wonderful things in Iraq. The press may not report it, but we are doing it here.
Stay tuned to Iraq--its outcome means a lot to the entire world.