Thursday, August 18, 2005

How I Spent My Summer Vacation


Here's some more observations on my week in Vegas. I'm putting the new ones up top, and putting the old ones in parenthesis.

  • Cops can be funny. The El-Tee had to be requalified on his rifle before he shipped out, so he had to go out to the range. Everyone else in the class was also in Security Forces. All cops. Miles and miles of desert--serious nothing-style desert--surrounded us at the range. It was also surrounded by barbed wire. Each one of them was armed. Yet, when they all got out there, each and every one of them locked their cars and set their alarms.
  • Once, the base was guarded by Security Forces at every gate. They were well-trained. They were the first faces presented to outsiders. They were an elite group. Now, the gates are patrolled by contracters. Rent-a-cops. That's because the real ones were needed elsewhere.
  • No one in this war is doing exactly what they were initially trained to do.
  • I watched, listened to, and talked with a number of honorable men and women. None of them said anything against this war, and none of them said anything against the President. But there was no enthusiasm either.
  • You don't want to be on the wrong side of a good cop.
  • You don't want to be on the wrong side of a Master Sergeant.
  • When the good cop's a Master Sergeant...be verrry nice. He or She can make or ruin your life without breaking a sweat.
  • I was struck by the incredibly businesslike approach that everyone I encountered displayed. Even 18-year-olds, preparing for deployment, seemed to take this all in stride.
  • That these 18-year-olds (and 23-year-old Butterbars) took this all in stride is directly proportional to the professionalism of their Sergeants.
  • Every business needs Sergeants.
  • There is a big difference between cops and soldiers. Even if the soldier is a cop, he's a cop first.
  • Everyone in the USAF is immensely proud of their pilots, their skills, and their aircraft.
  • Everyone in the USAF hates the pilots. Especially the fighter pilots. Including the other pilots, who love only themselves.
  • In the current war, the fighter pilots are the least necessary part of the military.
  • Everyone in the USAF disregards Security Forces. They don't dislike them (unless they're breaking a law), they don't like them (unless someone's breaking a law against them). They're just part of the landscape.
  • In the current war, Security Forces are the most necessary part of the military.

I will try to replace this post with a more cogent one later on this weekend.

Yeharr

13 Comments:

Blogger United We Lay said...

I hope you can find some rest, physically, mentally, etc... I know it's going to be rough. I hope your son will be okay. I wish there was more I could say.

4:17 PM, August 18, 2005  
Blogger Jessica said...

Every subculture has their tangle of quirks and biases. Thanks for the glimpse into the USAF. This whole mess in Iraq must be even more baffling from inside it all.

6:03 AM, August 19, 2005  
Blogger Philip Morton said...

B: Amazing how such well trained men and women, going off to such immense destabilization, seem stabalized within themselves. Amazing how the stability of the military seems like a complete paradox, given your new insights. It is just an incredibly well trained group of educated warriors, who give in to the whims of tribalism within their ranks, personality quirks, bravado and egotism? Each thinking their group is the best and name calling the others, but in the end everyone understands and follows orders, so the whole machine keeps rolling along? Thank you for sharing with all of us. I hope you and your son are able to find a deep peace in your connection upon such an unfamiliar parting.

12:11 AM, August 20, 2005  
Blogger mal said...

BP, my oldest sib put in 25 with the airforce flying C 130's. He hated the fighter pilots too *L* but thats another story

We should be proud of our military. They are the best trained forces in the world. They are men and women who understand "to serve" and most importantly are the first military force EVER to serve something other than a leader, a government for a homeland. They "defend and protect" a convenant of a people with themselves.

We are blessed

3:58 PM, August 20, 2005  
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4:12 PM, August 20, 2005  
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4:19 PM, August 20, 2005  
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4:36 PM, August 20, 2005  
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4:44 PM, August 20, 2005  
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4:45 PM, August 20, 2005  
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4:45 PM, August 20, 2005  
Blogger mal said...

I should have mentioned this on my earlier comment. The LT very much deserves your pride

*hugs*

5:05 PM, August 20, 2005  
Blogger Balloon Pirate said...

Agreed, Mallory.

Unfortunately, they are being forced past the breaking point to fight a war with no clear goals, and no exit strategy.

They are being asked to perform duties for which they were not originally trained, in a war that should not have been fought.

And they know it, and they resent it.

Yeharr

4:24 AM, August 21, 2005  
Blogger Balloon Pirate said...

And thanks for the complinemt, and the hug.

Back atcha.

Yeharr

4:25 AM, August 21, 2005  

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