Tuesday, 15 April 2008

Home, and Reintegrating.

Well, I've been home for over a week and I still don't know how to answer the question, "So, are you glad to be home?"
Of course I'm glad to be home. But, I also miss the sense of mission and the friends I had in Afghanistan. And even though I spent 15 months in Afghanistan, I sometimes feel guilty being home and safe while others are still serving overseas. I don't ever want to forget that I have friends and colleagues away from home and in harms way, and I'm ready to go back when necessary to do my part again.

I've often heard it said that the nation is not at war, only the military is at war. Now that I'm home I have a mixed opinion on that statement. True, there are no outward signs of war in Vancouver, Washington; No armored vehicles patrolling the streets, no bunkers, no check points. However, there is obviously a lot of support for deployed troops. In my first week back I was out to lunch with a group of Soldiers and another patron paid the bill for all of us, and didn't even stick around for us to say thank you. Everywhere I go I am thanked for my service and welcomed home. Having seen what war does to a country I'm glad we are safe at home, I'm glad it doesn't "look like we are at war" and I'd gladly go back if that is what it takes to keep us safe here at home.

And although we don't see the same level of industrial mobilization that was required during WWII, we as a nation have invented and refined dozens if not hundreds of systems to fight this current war; Up-armored HMMWVs, electronic countermeasures against IEDs, improved body armor, UAVs, as well as improved classes and training and leadership techniques. When I look back to 2003/2004 and my time in Iraq I'm reminded that in the beginning we had no UAHs, no improved body armor, no translators, no PRTs or ETTs or anthropologist assigned at the unit level. Now they have all these, and more, in both Iraq and Afghanistan.

Now I'm not saying that someone shouldn't have anticipated these needs and prepared accordingly, but those decisions are made above my pay grade. I am saying that the military has adapted and changed and learned while still fighting and winning the war on multiple fronts; Iraq, Afghanistan, Africa and Asia.

And yes, I think we are winning the war. I certainly have no insight into the "big picture" but I know that on the ground, wherever there are US troops (or British or Canadian or Polish or Romanian or any number of other countries that support us with troops on the ground) we are winning the war. Iraqis or Afghanis who work with US troops see a little bit of America, and they like what they see. We will never make them like us, and they don't want to be like us, but we can make them better, and help them make their countries better and safer.

I don't pretend to understand the politics that got us in to this war, or even the long term strategy to "win" the war, but I do know that the US military can and will do it's job whenever and wherever they are called to serve. I know that the Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines with whom I have worked represent what is best about this country, they are great ambassadors around the world.

Am I glad to be home? Yes, of course. Would I do it again? Yes, in a heartbeat. In fact, I know that as long as I wear the uniform this is part of the job.

Until next time.

Phillips, out.


Haole Wahine said...

We're glad you are home with your family, and we're thankful that men like you serve.

Thanks for your insights, they help all of us "unmilitary types" try to understand what's going on.

Gratitude and Prayers.

David M said...

The Thunder Run has linked to this post in the blog post From the Front: 04/15/2008 News and Personal dispatches from the front lines.

Anonymous said...

Attention! See Please Here

Anonymous said...

Hello Mr. Phillips,

I have been reading your bog occasionally. I was very happy to see your last post dated 15th of April. Welcome back. Happy to hear that you are safe and reunited with your beloved ones. I hope my friend makes it home safe and sound as well.
By the way, I have found the following statement quite insightful: "We will never make them like us, and they don't want to be like us, but we can make them better, and help them make their countries better and safer."

Best wishes to everyone.

Anonymous said...

See Please Here

Through Grace Peace said...

Truth Escapes Satans Grip

I had a dream.
I saw satan swimming slowly, languorously, smiling,
wafting down a river of blood.
More and more as he spread his blood drenched arms
across each bank, people murdered themselves
and murdered their neighbors.
Their blood poured out filling the river deeper and deeper,
and satan patiently, willfully, joyfully
screeched a hideous cry of encouragement.
The unwitting souls on the riverbank, stood
with their eyes firmly fixed on the heavens
spoke the name of God,
then committed self-murder,
and satans fingers, dripping blood, dragged their souls
into his hell bound torrent.
Occasionally a bright beam of truth
would shine upon one of the souls on the riverbank
and they would simply walk away.
And satan thrashed and screamed each time
as another soul escaped his grip.

Through Grace Peace

Anonymous said...


I am a soldier currently deployed (and almost complete) with my 2nd tour in IRAQ. I have read your blogs and its good to know someone puts the truth of it all out there...its really is touching. I understand what it feels like when someone asks "You happy to be back?" its gets more complicated each time....
I have lost friends both last time and this time...I will never forget them or the times we shared. On side note I to am suffering from depression from this never ending war...the army gives me some pretty pink pills to deal with it...and it kind of works....
Anyway I just wanted to say thanks for posting this it really gave me a interesting incite on what others like my self are feeling.
I actually will be PCSing to FT LUIS here in the next 6 months and I will be honest its a very mixed subject because I really dont know much about it or what to expect...though I do know I am going to 4/2 once I arrive there. Do you have anything you can tell me about 4/2 that would help me prepare for when I get there? I will check back on your web site in times to come for more inspiration so thanks again.

1-21 IN BN

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