Thursday, May 3, 2012
A much needed vacation is in order and I am jetting off to Ireland for a week. Surprisingly enough, the Marine Corps now makes it three times more difficult to vacation in Ireland as they do to spend seven months in Afghanistan. Below is an example of what the Marine Corps required a 40 year old man to do in order to be approved to take a week vacation to the Emerald Isle:
Registration on APACS (Aircraft and Personnel Automated Clearing System)
Anti-Terrorism Force Protection Level 1 Certificate of Completion
SERE Level B Certificate of Completion
Country Threat Brief by Intel
Information Assurance Course Certificate of Completion
Copy of Birth Certificate
Copy of Passport
Commanding Officers Authorization Letter
Isoprep Confirmation Letter
Trip Registration with U.S. State Department
Copy of Flight Itinerary
Operational Risk Management Matrix
Retirement cannot come quick enough from an organization which requires this much red tape and paperwork for almost any activity one would participate in during their off-time. There is no tolerance for anyone that might go out and make a mistake during their liberty time, and higher headquarters now blames the entire chain of command below them down to the troubled Marine's first line supervisor, so this is the result of everyone trying to CYA. Once upon a time we held the individual Marine (grown adult, mind you) accountable for his actions, now the Corps expects the Marine's NCO, SNCO, and OIC all to answer for their Marine's lack of discipline and/or judgment. It is an insane amount of wasted time that is hard to even accurately describe to those on the outside not experiencing it. To any who are currently in the Marine Corps you know exactly what I am talking about. It has gotten to the point that we cannot release our Marines for the weekend without first conducting a safety brief, having each of them fill out a "HARP" form (Holiday Accident Reduction Program) and conducting a vehicle inspection on their modes of transportation. It is truly unbelievable and lacks any shred of common sense. If an individual is a (pardon my French) dumbass then he is going to be a dumbass regardless of all the paperwork and inspections we make him fill out prior to sending him on his liberty. All the safety briefs, vehicle inspections, and other stupid documents we are forced to waste our time having them fill out will not phase them, as they are the 10% that are destined to be screw-ups. Contrary to the Corps new philosophy, they will not create some mistake-free utopia with these methods, they will only create frustrated Marines at every rank and level who cannot wait to free themselves from the administrative chains they are shackled to.
I'm off to Ireland to unwind from all this madness...stay classy, Marine Corps.
Wednesday, May 2, 2012
Below is an ad in response to the recent campaign ad by President Obama which attempted to politicize a military action for the President's gain.
Why am I so lonely today? Most days I feel so strong, yet once in a while I find myself unable to control my emotions. I have nothing notable to be sad about and yet, here I am, feeling my mood sink by the minute. I find myself tired of this day, tired of this mission, tired of this patrol base, and most of all, tired of this third world hellhole.
On the last mission, we watched a dozen or so children playing soccer, oblivious to the squalor they live in and clueless to the horrible life that awaits them. Then I saw it!!! As the ball came rolling within ten to twenty yards of our vehicle, three boys came to retrieve it and I could see the look on one of the boys' faces as he turned to look at us in our MATV. It was clear to me as I looked at him that unlike his friends, he understood his plight. He had a distinctive expression on his face that cried out, “please take me with you...I don't want to live this life.” What would cause him to have that knowledge or insight? It has convinced me that the fighting desire to be free is hard-wired in all regardless of what they have or haven't been introduced to in life. It can easily be brainwashed or beaten out of many, but some are just strong willed enough to resist this re-education and for them, living in a country such as this one will be a lifelong mission to get out. I pray that young boy is able to get wherever he wants to go one day. I wish I had the power to take him home with me. I have not been here for two complete months and yet I have already been changed in some ways forever.