Friday, August 14, 2009

Welcome to the End

I stood in front of the filled room and said, “There are two great moments in a deployment. The day you arrive and the day you leave. Everyone in this room has that in common.” And with that we welcomed our replacements.

It’s the end of the deployment for my Soldiers. It’s also the end of the war for our replacements. Although I have no idea how many more Civil Affairs units they are going to send and for how long after 2011, I know that it’s common knowledge that most combat forces will be out of Iraq by this time next year. Don’t get wrapped up in the semantics of what a “combat force” is or isn’t. The bottom line is that the draw down will happen on my replacements watch.

I don’t envy them. Most of them have never deployed before. It’s like showing up at the party after all the good stuff has happened and you end up helping the host clean up. Not that combat is fun by any stretch of the imagination, but it does pass the time and makes for good bullshit at the local VFW (“So there I was, knee deep in hand grenade pins, with nothing but a bayonet between me and two dozen bad guys.”) Our replacements will learn an important lesson of, “expectation management.”

It’s good that all of this is coming to a close. The Iraqis prove time and time again that they want to be in charge and don’t want our help. They need intellectual, strategic, and monetary support, but they certainly don’t want that of the cost of MRAPs driving through their towns emasculating their military, police, and protection forces with our arrogance and, tempered as it is of late, attitude of being able to go wherever we want, whenever we want to. Let the State Department take over (instead of partner with the military) and assist (instead of take charge from the Iraqis) in rebuilding Iraq. I still care about this country. After two tours here I want them to succeed and I still feel an odd internal pull to want to stay and see what happens next. But that feeling is becoming more and more fleeting.

This is the end. I find myself disengaging more and more from work despite the big project I have this coming week. I am thinking of home and actually being there for longer than two weeks and getting to know my son and show pride in my daughter. I drift off to green trees and baby blue skies without dust and think about holding my wife again. I feel the energy being sucked out of me after a year away and I think about my own bed...

Welcome to the end.

1 comment:

Darci said...

WOOOOOOHOOOOOOO! It's about time! We'll see you soon Rich!