Well, this looks like it will be my last post from the United States for quite some time. A few weeks ago, I learned that I was volunteered to deploy back to Afghanistan with a new job and a new unit. I would be lying if I said that I was excited to go at first. I just got married a few months ago and I have no formal training in the job that I will be performing. Still, a quick glance at the headlines these past couple of weeks shows that there is still a lot that needs to be done in the Middle East. People can make cute little comments about moral equivalency and the Crusades and whatever else all they want, but the fact remains that radical Muslims continue to make life miserable for themselves and everyone around them, especially their neighbors in their own countries.
For every Westerner that is killed by these various militant groups, hundreds, if not thousands of locals are intimidated, extorted, and murdered. In the same week that the sons and daughters of middle-eastern immigrants trashed the ideals of the society that took them in by murdering unarmed cartoonists, a town larger than the one I grew up in was wiped off the map by Boko Haram in Nigeria. It’s hell on earth to be a civilian in places like Iraq and Afghanistan, but most of the people making it that way are as foreign to those countries as the Coalition Soldiers are. A good portion of the ground forces and nearly all of the financiers for both ISIS and the various Afghan insurgent groups are either foreigners or criminals. There is a pretty easy way to tell the difference between my brothers and sisters and the human scumbags arrayed against us. One group assumes risk to protect the local populations and the other group does the exact opposite. A pretty sizable percentage of those flag-draped coffins flying back to Delaware are there because we do everything in our power to minimize civilian casualties even if it makes ourselves vulnerable. The people we’re fighting don’t give a shit.
I am fully aware that I’m only going back to Afghanistan because someone with more pull than me didn’t want to go and my leaders decided it would be better to send the new guy than to jeopardize the career timeline of someone who has been with them for longer. At this point, I’ve had less than half the “dwell” time of any other combat-tested Lieutenant in the Battalion, but a part of me still welcomes the opportunity to once again help take the fight to an enemy that hates everything about the society that by any metric has done more to alleviate global suffering and poverty than any other nation in history.
My new unit is fantastic, and I have to admit that I’m much happier going to work now than I have been in the year since I’ve been back. From what I’ve heard, this deployment should be a good deal less violent than the last one so, with luck, there should still be plenty of time to focus on writing. Things will be up in the air for the next few weeks, but hopefully I’ll be able to start posting on a weekly basis once everything gets settled.