I have been looking at pictures of my youngest daughter who just turned 1 last Thursday. When I left for this mission, she was a little ball of flesh. Now she is nearly walking, has about 4 teeth, and is using sign language to communicate for "more" or "all done"...when she feels like it. All four children have been on fast forward development since I have been gone...most all of it good. Although I lament my seven month absense from family, I know I have less of a reason than my Army colleagues who are here for twice as long - 15 months.
This upcoming year will be one of critical decisions for the future of my family. We'll be happily moved in our new home just long enough for the Air Force to decide what it wants to do with me when the next promotion board meets in November and the results are released in Mar 08.
The Air Force has also reduced it's allotted recovery time for us from six months down to four. The flesh peddlers who sit at their desk all year and don't deploy feel 120 days at home is enough for any one to be rested before being selected for the next 180 - 365 day deployment to where ever a warm body is needed. Long story short, I'll know right around Christmas time this year if I am selected to deploy again. The fact that I have been gone for 330 days out of the last two years is only an unfortunate trivia nugget for the Air Force.
Switching topics to the US Congress. There was a recent victory in the passing of a Homeland Security bill based on most of the recommendations from the 9/11 Commission. Fortunately, we've had relative safety - enough for the ordinary American to become apathetic and complacent about terror acts in the US - for the last 5 years to get these measures identified and now signed into law by President Bush. In my opinion, the two most important features will be an upgraded and mostly state of the art communications capability and the scanning of shipping containers at sea. Any law enforcement, emergency management, explosive ordnance, and/or military professional will tell you nothing means more than the ability to clearly communicate in the fog of war and crisis. I can only hope the new law will provide for many agencies the new equipment and survivable backbone necessary to carry out their duties. Also, the sheer brute number of shipping containers entering our country daily is a harbinger of doom for port security and US safety. Any number of weapons or terrorist teams can be sneaked into the country with relative ease. You've seen it in the movies and episodes of 24...it's not far from reality. The ability to scan these containers at sea and prior to docking in a US port will be a great improvement in deterrence.
One last thought on Sen Murtha's bill to have US troops begin pulling out of Iraq in 2 months and allowing the President a.k.a the Commander-in-Chief to decide the final withdrawal dates. Based on what I have seen and experienced here in Iraq, nothing would be better than to call mission complete and pack up for a speedy return to the States. It's just not that easy.
Even though the Iraqi Parliament has done nothing to help itself and decided to break for the entire month of August in a spiteful move against President Bush, the United States of America is a super power in this world and it has the responsibility to finish what it started and not be a cut and run country. Just as we have checks and balances in our government, the United States Armed Forces provide a check and balance to this region keeping countries like Iran and Syria in line and from carrying out, to the fullest extent, their devious and nefarious plans for conquering and dividing this region.
Strangely enough, this is no longer the 1200's time period where kingdoms conquered other kingdoms just because they could. Most nations in this world are pretty happy with peaceful coexistence today. I can't place my finger on it, radical Islam or the heat baking their little brains, but there is something about this region that stopped evolving hundreds of years ago.
On top of that, you add the radical Islam plan for world domination, an Iranian leader is who is bent on bringing back the 13th Imam (lucky 13!) through fire and chaos, and you have a region creating a worldwide powder keg. For those who believe in the End Times, this may be just the beginning if we don't keep this region in check.
Enough politics and world events for today. Time keeps on ticking...(come on, sing the rest) in to the future. My time on station is shortening and the date of departure is nearing. The military calls it decompression: I am enjoying being able to sleep whenever I am tired and basking in the quiet of my trailer in between meals, working out at the gym and checking email at the morale tent. We will have packers arriving within four days of my return home. I need to out-process the base before our move. There will 5 very special people and 2 dogs battling for my attention and time as I try to make up for lost time with my family. I think this is very likely the calm before the proverbial storm!
Stay vigilant and God Bless America.