Saturday, May 28, 2005

The Non-Issue of Armor, Garry Trudeau

Some of you may have seen Garry Trudeau’s comic strip a couple of weeks ago. Its focus was on our supposed lack of armored vehicles. I’m a little late in commenting on this, but unlike Mr. Trudeau, I’m actually over here in Iraq working. That’s what always amazes me about people like Trudeau. They’re so vigorous in their attempt to criticize everything about this war, yet they have no idea what they’re talking about because they’re not actually here. Mr. Trudeau can accept my apologies if he has in fact been over here, but I’m going to assume he hasn’t, and if he has, then I doubt he stayed much longer than a week. The comic shows a soldier or Marine typing away on a laptop. Presumably this person is writing on his blog, not unlike what I’m doing right now. He’s in uniform, drinking from a bottle of water, and looks to be in an internet café. 5/7 is written on the cartoon as well, so if you want to look it up under May 7, be my guest. Here it is verbatim. (Words in parenthesis are mine)

First box:
"May 7, 2005. 1125. Hey, Yall. Some of you seemed surprised(Yeah, that you can print something so inaccurate and make money from it in the process) we’re still using hillbilly armor on our vehicles"

Second box:
"Trust me on this. (Yeah, trust a man with a cartoon that’s 7000 miles away from the place he speaks so confidently of) The new uparmored humvees still haven’t made it to us(We had new ones arrive months ago, and we already had enough before that). It’s strictly scrounge time here(what part of Iraq is he in?), pure road warrior."(He has no idea)

Third box:
"A few weeks ago, some pencilhead drove out here in a pickup to count how many(enough) battle-worthy wagons we had. Big mistake."(Yeah, on my part, for actually spending one minute of my existence reading the crap that is your cartoon)

Forth box:
"Within an hour, I pimped my ride with Bronco parts."(I’m so clever, I was able to refer to a popular saying and be humorous at the same time. God, I’m a genius)

I don’t know how many people read his comic strip, nor do I know their economic or social status, but I’m sure the number of people is fairly high. He is, after all, syndicated in most newspapers back home. His comic, Doonesbury, even appears in the one paper we receive over here, the Stars and Stripes. So lets assume his number of readers is quite high. Let’s also assume that these people are impressionable, and therefore believe pretty much everything they read. A lot of his readers would probably describe themselves as "intellectuals", those who profess to thinking creatively and having an open mind. They pride themselves on their ability to be open minded about any subject, when in reality they are anything but. They more than likely take his words at face value, believing his opinion on issues regarding the military, Iraq, and the current administration as fact. They would no doubt read a strip like this regarding our supposed lack of armor as the general feelings of every soldier over here, which in turn fuels more criticism for the DOD and the administration.

Joe or Sally know it all, sitting back in the States, sipping on a four dollar latte from Starbucks, would wrongfully interpret this as a major problem confronting every soldier or Marine over here. These same people profess their undying love and support for the men and women in uniform, but are quick to point out their hatred for the war. I say love both. Not necessarily the inherent violent, chaotic, and destructive side of war, but the war we are now waging to win the peace and nurture a democratic Iraq. I say support not only us, but what we are doing over here as well. After all, if you don’t support the good things we’re doing, criticizing everything we do in turn, then in my humble, doesn’t matter opinion, you aren’t supporting us either. Oh, the pseudo intellectual elite, they’re so blinded by their supposed intellect and open mindedness, they fail to realize how clouded their judgement actually is.

As someone who is actually over here living in Iraq, let me give you my view on this issue. I’ll tell you what I know based on my experience within my Brigade, and what I witness on a daily basis. I’m in the 3rd Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division, based out of Ft. Benning, Ga. We’re under the command of the 42nd Infantry Division, which is based in New York. Not one vehicle in our Brigade left Kuwait without some type of armor. If there was a vehicle without armor, it was transported on top of an armored truck, with no personnel inside. We sometimes use unarmored humvees inside the FOB, but never are these humvees allowed to be taken outside the gates. When going outside the gates, we use armored vehicles. I have yet to see an unarmored vehicle when out on a mission. We cover a large area and pass many convoys, some of which are units not affiliated with 3rd or 42nd ID, and I have still not seen any vehicles without armor.

You’ve heard the term "Hillbilly Armor". I personally think the term sucks. Why make fun of the hillbilly’s. Why not "provisional armor," or "modified armor," or "converted armor." Or how about "appendaged armor," based on the fact that a few vehicles have had armor appended to them. "Hey, go get that "appendaged armor" humvee ready so we can protect our appendages." How about improvised? That word seems to be used quite a bit around here. "Hey Michael, we’re taking the "improvised armor" humvee out today." "Good thinking Sergeant, it will protect us from the improvised explosive devices and the vehicle borne improvised explosive devices." We could just call it IA, but that acronym is already taken by the Iraqi Army and might confuse some people. "Michael, run over to that IA vehicle and grab some water and MRE’s." "Sergeant, we both know the IA won’t have any bottled water, and the only thing they’ll have to eat is some pita bread and eggs." "No, not the Iraqi Army vehicle, the Improvised Armor vehicle." "Roger Sergeant, I got confused. Why do we have to designate them Improvised Armor vehicles when they do the same thing as any other armored vehicle?" "Well Michael, we wouldn’t want the media back home, who have wrongly determined those vehicles as not worthy of that title, to run a story saying that we were trying to give you any false security." "Roger Sergeant, God forbid if that ever happened." This would be better. "Hey Michael, go get that IA vehicle ready to roll, we’re taking it out on a mission today." "Hell yeah Sergeant, we get to go out in a pick up truck today, that’ll be fun." "Sorry to ruin your fun Michael, but you know they won’t allow us to go out in anything that isn’t armored." "Yeah Sergeant, but it sure would be fun to ride around in just a plain, old pick up truck." Pick up truck, dune buggy, motorcycle, bicycle, whatever, I think a lot of us wouldn’t mind going out in any of those sometime.

Armor is armor, who gives a damn what it looks like. Maybe it would make people feel better back home if this "Hillbilly Armor" was painted up to look really nice and pretty, but making it pretty isn’t going to make it any stronger. Anyway, the vehicles with "Improvised Armor" are few and far between, and they mostly just sit inside the FOB.

So I know for a fact that our Brigade is covered when it comes to armored vehicles. I’m probably correct in assuming that the other three Brigades in our Division have plenty of armored vehicles as well. I also know that every vehicle I’ve seen carrying soldiers from the 42nd were armored as well. So lets just assume that those two Divisions aren’t lacking in armored vehicles. I’ve also seen units outside of the umbrella of either the 3rd or 42nd ID riding around in armored vehicles. I’m going to go out on a limb here and assume that the vast majority of people who actually go outside the FOB are riding in armored vehicles. Of course you wouldn’t think that from reading Trudeau. That’s the travesty of this comic strip. Some schmuck sitting at his breakfast table, eating a bowl full of soggy bran flakes, will read Trudeau’s words and think how shameful it is. "Honey, can you believe all those poor kids over in Iraq don’t even have the proper armor to protect them from those roadside bombs." "Oh Howard, that’s just awful, hey, can you take the kids to school, I have to get my nails done." Poor Howard, he’s been hoodwinked by a cartoonist.

Having said all that, I’m sure there are some soldiers or Marines that have been out on the streets without armor. I’m not discounting that, especially any that have been wounded or killed by an IED, but it’s irresponsible for Trudeau to spread falsehoods about armored vehicles to further his own political agenda.

The whole nonissue of armor has grown old, and I only bring it up because Trudeau insists on doing so. People also email me about it as well, inquiring as to whether or not we have enough armor. I also think there is a greater issue involved that isn’t tangible. It’s called attitude. To me armor is nothing more than a big heavy security blanket that helps some people feel more comfortable about being in Iraq. All of you remember that National Guardsmen who questioned Mr. Rumsfeld at a camp in Kuwait. He was an attention seeking, pretentious, prick, who showed no respect in the way in which he questioned Mr. Rumsfeld.

We have people send us old magazines all the time. I usually pick up a couple to read whenever I get the chance. One of the ones I picked up was Time magazines last issue of 2004. In it is a little story about this Guardsmen and why he asked the question. The article starts off with a quote from him saying, "If this is my 15 minutes of fame, I hope it saves a life." That’s sweet, it sounds like he’s seeking martyrdom. I think it was Andy Warhol who said in the future everyone would have their fifteen minutes of fame. I personally think Andy was full of crap, since this guy thankfully only received about two before fading back into oblivion.

The article goes on to say that he decided on the question for Mr. Rumsfeld after his convoy arrived at a camp in Kuwait. Keep in mind that this guy is still in Kuwait. He hasn’t even crossed the border into Iraq. He says that the reporter who was urging him to come up with intelligent questions for Mr. Rumsfeld suggested a less brash way of asking the question. What was his response? "I told him no, that I wanted to make my point very clear." Rumsfeld responded that even a fully armored vehicle can be blown up. Martyr boy told the reporter, "Personally, I didn’t like that answer." You might not have liked it, but it’s fact. Truth hurts sometimes. And the truth is that any armored vehicle, including a tank, can be blown up if the explosive is large enough. All he had to do was pick up a newspaper or watch the news and he could’ve found proof.

To me it all goes back to attitude. This guy, still in the safe haven of Kuwait, already had a defeatist attitude. He was already defeated in his mind. He’d already been hit by an IED, and was so busy crying to the Sec. of Def. about it that he failed to realize the opportunity that lay in front of him, the opportunity to attack the bad guys. I never leave these gates without that thought on my mind. It’s what keeps me alert when I’ve only had four hours sleep in the past two days. He’s so worried about getting blown up or attacked that he becomes ineffective in fighting the bad guys. What kind of attitude is that to have before entering a combat zone. Newsflash martyr boy, there are people that would like to cut your head off and post the video on their website. You can either whine about it or go out and try to kill them first. If I had his attitude, with as much time as we spend outside these gates, I’d probably have a nervous breakdown and become so depressed I’d want to die.

I have plenty of armor. Our entire Brigade has plenty of armor. Every vehicle that left Kuwait was outfitted with some kind of armor. Not that it matters. And this is the crux of the issue. Rummy was right, there are bombs out there that can blow a turret of a tank 30 feet away from the hull. So what do you think a bomb like that is going to do to a vehicle that doesn’t have near the armor strength of a tank.

Rummy got into a lot of trouble with media for saying that you go to war with the army you have, not the army you want to have. What’s wrong with that statement? It happens to be true. There are a lot of things I would like to have that I know I’m never going to have. I’d like a hovercraft that requires no maintenance. It floats above the earth at speeds unknown to man. It’s invisible, has an impenetrable force field around it, and its laser gun can destroy the enemy from great distances with pinpoint accuracy. The entire outer surface of the craft is transparent, giving you the ability to see out at every angle. At night, the surface of the craft would automatically become the color of the night sky, but everything on the outside would look as it would during the day. It would have an autopilot, a refrigerator full of cold water and sandwiches, and an XM satellite receiver so I could listen to the news back home.

In another article written by Mark Thompson entitled, "How Safe Are Our Troops?", the author says that it was Rumsfeld’s response that ignited a firestorm. He goes on to say that this reply conveyed "a seemingly blithe disregard for the welfare of troops." Does anyone actually believe that Rumsfeld doesn’t care about the welfare of the troops? I guess some do, and they’re probably the same people that believe everything Trudeau says as fact. Retired Army General Barry McCaffrey had this to say as well, "You can talk like that to a congressional committee or a reporter, but not to a soldier who's extremely concerned about the safety of himself and his buddies." Why not if it’s the truth. I want my leaders to give it to me straight, not try to comfort me by blowing smoke up my ass.

This article also contains one of the most ridiculous statements I’ve ever read. While the author is listing off the number of armored vehicle and unarmored vehicles in Iraq at the time, he said, "These ‘naked’ humvees are supposedly confined to U.S. bases, but they remain vulnerable to mortar attacks." Are you kidding me? Does he think we sit around in a humvee all day while we’re in the FOB? Maybe he thinks we live in them. Yeah, we’ve installed port-a-johns in them as well. When we have to eat, we pull up to the drive through window at the chow hall. The seats double as beds, and we have little curtains on the widows. "Remain vulnerable to mortar attacks," really, I guess we should stop doing p.t. around the FOB, since at any given time of the day there are people out in shorts and t-shirts running around, not to mention that we have to walk out in the open to actually get places.

As for Rumsfeld’s comment that you can have all the armor in the world in a tank and still be blown up, Delaware Senator Joseph "Toupee" Biden thought that remark was insensitive and responded by saying, "By that logic, we should send out troops into battle on bicycles." It’s nice to know that Biden is worried about my sensitivities. Senator, most of us can handle the truth, so you need not worry about our feelings being hurt. While I find Senator Biden’s sarcastic comment indicative of his arrogance, I actually think it would be a good idea. Please let me go ride around on a bike. I guarantee you I could find a group of guys that would love to go out on a patrol riding a bike. I’d like a Schwinn, complete with streamers on the handle bars, a horn, and a big basket on the front to carry ammo and goodies for the children. Or maybe we could upgrade to a Harley and mount a machine gun on the front. Until those bicycles start arriving, I guess I’ll just have to settle for this.

Here I am riding into battle on my "hillbilly" bicycle.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Michael,
Thinking gratefully of you and all those who are and have defended our nation through the years. Thank you for your service and for your blog. I depend upon the bloggers serving in the field to give me the true news of what is going on in Iraq and Afghanastan. The MSN is hopeless.

2:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My cousin's husband is in the National Guard unit with the soldier who questioned Rumsfeld that day. To say he was irate at the question is somewhat of an understatement. He had his hands full at that point in time with men who were bored and frustrated waiting to "go in" and they had the nerve to complain about scrounging for armor in the "wrecking yard". At least it gave them something to do and they weren't picking fights with each other. He was compelled in his first message after they actually arrived in Iraq to assure us that each one had ridden in an armored or "up-armored" vehicle. Like that's something he needs to be concerned with - reassuring us at home.

I'm convinced the media at large is anti-American except for the freedom to fill their own pockets with their on ill-gotten gains - Trudeau at the top of the list. Thanks for your honest information. Keep it coming!

2:58 PM  
Anonymous stephen said...

hey michael,

thank you for that. i have really learned alot from this blog.

reading the newspapers and watching tv, i would think that iraq is a smoldering, charcoaled sand pit filled with car bombs, and that the american soldeirs are helpless against the "martyrs" because you dont even have enough equipment.

reading this, i wonder why they NEVER report anything from the soldiers themselves so they can actually get the story right. if you are going to report on something, such as the condition of the american army, it probably makes sense to actually talk to the american army.

has a reporter ever gone up to you and asked for your opinion or your view on something, then actually reported it?

they make you guys look like VICTIMS, michael. they make american soldeirs look like victims of the bush administration and iraqi extremists. thats wrong.

thank you so much for opening my eyes and probably others as well to whats really happening

2:59 PM  
Anonymous stephen said...

heres another thought:

the ONLY way that ANY american soldier will get a say in the matter (unless they have something that supports the media's viewpoint, is if they die.

the only thing a soldier can do that will get him reported to the world is being KILLED. then he becomes part of the daily body count.

he might become #3 out of 8 deaths that get reported that day. his only way of impacting the public will be adding one more to the body count.

if you got to share your perspective with the public, it would change something. but X number of car bombs killing X number of people is apparently the best selling headline available right now. NOT a soldiers viewpoint on whats actually happening.

all the soldeirs do for the media is give them dead bodies to count.

keep the insights, stories, and truth coming, michael. we need it.

3:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm really glad that you are allright. Each time when you don't appear for a week or so I worry.
Be well, my friend.

4:09 PM  
Blogger Kat said...

Great post. I love reading your blog ~ and yes, I appreciate both your service, AND your mission over there!!!

Hey, i never knew you were with the 3/3!! Back when the war first started, I "adopted" a 1 Lt. from the 3/3 ~ back during the "shock 'n awe' days ~ from

To this day, I still wonder and hope and pray 1 Lt. jones made it home safe. :)

Sending thanks and prayers to you all,

Kat in Loganville, Georgia

5:28 PM  
Blogger Desultory Girl said...

Always good to hear when you post, Michael.

I'm glad we got to hear of this from you. It's valuable to have the soldier's perspective, one that's actually there living in it. Maybe someone will take notice.

LMAO over you riding that "hillbilly" bike, but your missing the horn and the streamers.

10:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

BRAVO MICHAEL BRAVO!!!! You have courage and strength and you did something that many have only been talking about; you STUCK IT TO THE MEDIA!!! Just so you know Michael here back home I don't think I personally know of anyone who trusts the media either; especially the ones that critisize what is going on!! I was over near where you are now back during the Gulf War; (I was on the Samuel Gompers in the Gulf of Oman). I also come from a family that suffered greatly during WWII, and frankly when I read things like that or hear it on TV I feel spit on!! THANK YOU Michael for letting me lift my head again!!

T. Vandal
Bryan, Ohio

10:56 PM  
Anonymous Beth said...

How's it going? I've checked back everyday waiting on a post. I quit watching the news long ago and just stick to reading blogs. I agree with Stephen that the media seems to make you guys seem like victims, but with each blog I read, I see the victories. You all are doing a great job. I support you 100%. Keep up the good work, tell your buddies I said "good job" to them too. You're in my prayers.

11:57 PM  
Blogger phil said...

Hi Michael,

I loved the bit about the warp speed hovercraft with shields and lasers all that good stuff. Makes for the kind of fantasy that can keep me day-dreaming for hours - flying around in my invisible ship, zapping all those pesky little roadside IED planters and blowing their shit right up in their faces just as they are setting up.

Marry this scenario with a couple of divisions of Arnie-type Terminators and Iraq seriously would rock !

I wonder what all those hand-wringing, yellow-spined, lily-livered liberal self-defeatists would have to say about that ?

Sadly, we may never know. The thought of it though is enough to make you wish someone would hurry up and invent a time machine.

Phil, London.

6:17 AM  
Blogger Sami said...

Hey Michael,

Way to hit it on the head. I haven't read through everyone else's comments so I'm sure someone else has said something about this, but damn those idiots that haven't been here. What the hell do they know about what's going on there? Not a damn thing, that's what. No armor, hillbilly armor... we used to have those a year or so ago. All trucks have at least AOA, and I can tell you for a fact that all my guys have uparmored M1114s.... and you know outfitted reservist/ng usually aren't. Oh, and for our personal edification, they were only two to three months old when we landed in Baghdad.

Shit, the war ain't in Iraq... it's at home. It's with these silly, stupid, sheep of people who look at whatever is in front of their nose and spew out bull. What's sad is that some of these people join the military and make it worse by the day.

Can't wait for the return of wall-to-wall. I came in long after it died and I've seen some people that can use a good counseling. Maybe that soldier that questioned Rumsfeld could use some of that.

Anyway, best of luck this year for you... I'm on my way out and probably will be back soon enough.


8:44 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Michael; we need your articulation and passion for the truth and your no bullshit honesty and your courage and patriotism IN THE CONGRESS. The country needs guys like Biden and Kennedy OUTA THERE replaced by your ilk. Please come home and run for the leadership position in your state when your tour is over. Also, you need to get published with a column across from Treauduu? (can't spell french). This gramma loves ya Mikey.

10:54 AM  
Blogger MountainDad said...

GREAT post kid!
Trudeau's been pulling that kinda crap since Vietnam. He reminds me of that sticky booger that gets stuck on your finger and you can't flick it off.....irritating.

I quit paying attention to the MSM long ago, and now get information via the internet and FOX News.

I LMAO over the bike picture and story! It reminded my when my son's squad confiscated a hadji motorcyle at ASP Rock and they,(along with the company XO) were riding it around at night using their NOD's. Guess they had a great time with it!

Anyway, love you Blog, and keep putting the truth out there. I hope that someway, somehow, my son will meet up with you when he returns this later year!

12:25 PM  
Blogger a soldiers angel said...

Now that was well read and damn funny. Thanks for the post!

5:15 PM  
Anonymous MKL said...

First off that bike doesn't have any reflectors. I think that's a violation there unless you've gotten a waiver.

"Hillbilly" is the last insult that PC correct Lefties can use and not feel guilty about. Take pride hillbilly and remember us hillbillies won where it counted,

Oh, I prefer getting my metaphors for life from "Peanuts." Curse you al-Red Baron!

6:38 PM  
Blogger Gemini II said...

I love that need a wagon on the back of that thing, then it would be true pimp ride.

8:20 PM  
Blogger Huntress said...

Great post.... it was're writing is filled with irony and humour.....unlike Garry who is a humourless humourist! Garry Trudeau is an elitist who rarely comes down out of his Ivory tower...he has a distain for the "hoary masses". He's an ass...plain and simple

His comic strip should be renamed DUNCEBURY!

So tell me is your bike armoured up? SOrrreee I couldn't resist!

Stay safe!

8:20 PM  
Blogger timdude11B said...

As a member of Mikes unit I can tell you that he is right on point. I would love to get a reporter to ask me a few questions about this place and see if they get published.

6:17 AM  
Anonymous bruce said...

Its sad when we have to get the truth from our soldiers. I think they have enough on their minds without having to do their own public damage control to make sure we get the correct picture, not the ones created by the media.

10:38 AM  
Anonymous P. Campbell said...


My son (82nd Airborne) was in Iraq and was made to up-armor his Hummer. Even though he spent a great deal of time "outside the wire," he would have preferred to have left it unarmored as it made his vehicle less maneuverable. (Maneuverablity and stealth were the reasons he often went without body armor too.)

2:18 PM  
Blogger Call Me Grandma said...

Thank you Michael for your service.
May God bless you and keep you safe...

4:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Michael,
I have been reading your column for several months, and have found it to be informative, inspiring, and heart-wrenching.
But in my hometown, one of our National Guardsmen serving in Iraq wrote a letter to our Newspaper which was published on May 8, 2005. He actually said that the National Guard vehicles have NOT received the armor, and that a soldier recently died because his vehicle didn't have it. Perhaps the regular army vehicles are better equipped. At any rate, I just wanted to let you know that there ARE soldiers there, who are working with unarmored equipment.
God bless you and keep you safe.
Sincerely, A concerned Montana Mom

7:01 PM  
Anonymous Cliff said...

Hi Michael,

First off, thank you for your service to our country, and for your blog. The cartoon strip you refer to is no more biased than the rest of the "main stream" news. I gave up reading both within 2 days of our attack of Iraq.

It is especially comforting to know that the military is not as screwed up as is commonly portrayed by the press, for my youngest son (18) just signed up and reports to Ft. Jackson on July 7 for basic.

Please know that for most of us back home, all you people over there are heroes and have our thanks, and are in our prayers.

Please be safe and continue letting us know what is really happening over there, the pros won't.

7:10 PM  
Blogger DagneyT said...

Michael, I stopped reading Trudeau's rubbish years ago! It was quite easy to give up, as it was never funny!

Don't underestimate the intelligence of the American people. Libs and donks do it all the time, that why they keep losing at the polls! ;-)

Thank you for you service Michael, and please know that most of us are praying for you, and are proud as your own parents must be of all your accomplishments! God speed you home safe and sound to us!

9:12 AM  
Blogger DonSurber said...

Godspeed, Michael

10:14 AM  
Blogger armynurseboy said...

I have to laugh an shake my head when I read what the MSM thinks is important sometimes....

I was in OIF I with 3d ACR. When we rolled across the berms, we did so configured to fight a traditional linear war.... ie our non-combat vehicles were just that NON-COMBAT VEHICLES. No armor, very few crew served weapons pintels. As we got situated and figured out what was going on, we started 'field expedient' modifications to our vehicles. This included improvised gun mounts and upgraded armor. And this was summer of '03. See, we were already taking care of things...

I think part of the problem with this whole armor flap is the folks back home aren't even asking the right questions. For one, instead of asking why our Humvees aren't armored, they should be asking WHY ARE HUMVEES BEING USED IN COMBAT IN THE FIRST PLACE?!?!?! That is what tanks, Bradleys and Strykers are for. I know that a lot of OIF 2 units left their heavy armor at home, and 3d ACR had to fight to bring all of their armor for OIF 3.

10:35 AM  
Blogger Mom said...

Congrats on the mention at MSNBC, Blackfive and Buzz did a great job. I have enjoyed your blog for sometime now and feel proud of the mention for you.
Take care.

11:50 AM  
Anonymous membrain said...

" All of you remember that National Guardsmen who questioned Mr. Rumsfeld at a camp in Kuwait. He was an attention seeking, pretentious, prick, who showed no respect in the way in which he questioned Mr. Rumsfeld" Thanks for that, I was thinking the same thing as I watched it on the news. I thought Rumsfeld's answer was bang on, if a soldier can't grasp the concept he's too stupid to be there.

Godspeed Michael.

3:48 PM  
Blogger TallDave said...

Great post. Thanks for sharing, and thanks for serving.

4:07 PM  
Blogger ALa said...

If it makes you feel any better, I don't know anyone that reads Garry Trudeau (especially after all the Pat Tillman stuff)...

Loved the hillbilly bike --you should email this post to Garry...

4:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

First, thank you for the sacrifices you are making in choosing to grab a rifle and man a wall. I appreciate reading your blog, it provides an alternative picture to what we are getting in the US from the media. I do hope that you are filing away your well articulated journal entries, when this is all over I hope you get to publish your entries and capitalize on your reporting. I know I will certainly buy a copy. Until then stay safe and may the Lord watch over you and your family.

4:42 PM  
Anonymous Warthog said...

You rock. I have posted a link to this article on my blog so that my readers can share the wisdom.

Killer bike too, does that mount an M2 H.B.?

6:15 PM  
Anonymous Peety Wheatstraw said...

Hey Michael,
I'd like to make a deal.

Let's see if we can find some middle ground. If you can stop being the angry soldier who thinks I'm here in the states drinking four dollar coffee, worshiping the author of a comic strip and blowing my nose on the American flag because I didn't vote W in the last election...
Then I will continue to try to be as informed as I can about what's going on where you are and the best way to help you without having to bow down and worship at the altar of the ultra conservative.

I understand that you are angry.

What I don't understand is why.

A comic strip doesn't change minds or fight wars.
Milblogs are far more effective in that area.
From what I have read from servicemen and women in other milblogs, some of you have what you need, others don't.
Iraq isn't the same for everyone everywhere in country.
Your post sounded like you were the only soldier that mattered in Iraq.

If you were in my unit we would have given you a blanket party for writing it.

7:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So why use any armor at all, smart guy?

9:59 PM  
Blogger Chap said...

Peety didn't get it.

"Blanket party"? What, you watch "Platoon" too many times?

Michael's explaining that this is an information war, and perceptions matter. Trudeau is skewing perceptions and making Michael's job harder. QED.

10:55 PM  
Anonymous Peter said...

So do you fight over there, or just type all day long? I support my troops, and I support you, but I do not support the war. There doesn't have be a correlation. This comic was trying to help you get more armor, we have no idea you don't need armor because our media is pumping us with false stories. The media's job is to tell us what is happening in Iraq, they tell us there is not enough armor. Why are you angry at this comic strip that is obviously trying to help muster some support for getting troops more armor? So if your going to be angry, be angry at fox and cnn and all the other misinformation stations.

11:17 PM  
Blogger mauser*girl said...

That was very well said.

I read Trudeau's strip and I think that a lot of the time, he draws what he, and the general public, get from the media, without doing further research on it.

I've read an article on him in which he talks about the research he did for his storyline about BD losing his leg in Iraq and about the recovery process. I know he went to Walter Reed to talk with patients and staff there for those segments, but I don't feel he's done a lot of research on other subjects.

I've been very pissed off at his strips about the Army Recruiter because my fiance happens to be an Army Recruiter and they get enough crap as it is, they don't need Trudeau adding to this stereotype of recruiters that we already get bombarded with in the media. He has no idea what recruiter's go through every day. My fiance's station frequently receives threatening and harrassing phone calls from random people who listen to folks like Trudeau and think it's the truth.

The whole armor thing has annoyed the living daylights out of me as well. We were deployed as part of mobilization command to southern VA for a year and a half until last summer. There, we got units ready to deploy. We told them all about armor and making armor at the junk yard. We had Vietnam Vets to talk to them about building and armoring gun trucks, and the transportation corps historian giving them ideas and suggestions. A lot of units simply blew them off, claiming there "was no time", or "it wasn't worth the effort", or "they'd get new vehicles once they got there, anyway". You name the excuse, it was given, if it got people out of actually installing armor.

But does Trudeau know about any of that? Of course not.

2:21 AM  
Blogger kc_harley said...

OUTSTANDING! More and More every day I am just amazed at these men and women!! Again, where do they come from?

The liberal Media as well as the Far Left of this country are bent on it's destruction!!

The enemy within, I many ways much more dangerous than the Terrorists!

11:09 PM  
Blogger Toni said...

Michael - some of that was very humorous. I loved the hovercraft description. I always say I'm waiting for my personal aircraft vehicle for gas savings. Anyway, I'm guessing that if a reporter actually talked to a soldier about the armor question they would cherry pick the responses to the soldiers who were unhappy and disliked Rummy. There would be no balance anyway. Then again, in order for the reporter to ask questions of a soldier they would have to get out of the 'green zone' and put their own butt on the line.

12:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is truly sad, that one cannot make a comment that goes agaist the popular view of this blog without being called a liberal, or Unamerican. I find it frusturating that if one makes an un popular comment on a blog like this that replies simply call names and do not respond to the points laid out.

It is possible to be for the soldiers, and aginst the war. I have family that served in Iraq, and Afghanistan, and I think it is a noble idea to take up arms for the protection of ones family or ideals. sometimes wars need to be fought. but sometimes they don't.

I do not believe the war in Iraq to be just. I don't think we had the right to go into a country, and that we were lied to about the reasons behind the invasion of Iraq. I do however think that these brave men and women who risk thier lives to help others are unselfish and incredibly brave and deserve our support, there are there doing a job that few can or would. It is a gift to the people of the US to have people who are willing to lay down thier lives for others.

I don't believe that the government, should tell half truths to soldiers who are willing to lend life and limb to protect our country. It is not fair to do so to the people who protect our land and our future. I believe this is the case with the war in Iraq. Afghanistan in my opinion was justifed, there was a reason and evidence for an invasion, and actual proof was found.

Nearly all the evidence presented to allow the invasion of Iraq has been proved false or misleading.

Please ask yourself has the war in Iraq helped made us safer? or has it produced more people that are finaticaly aginst the united states, more people who are now willing to risk thier lives to take the lives of americans. Has'nt this war to end terrorism created more terroism? The people of Iraq don't seem to be all that happy about having the US as occupiers, as evidenced in the continual upsurge in violence against our troops.

I appreciate responses, but Flaming is not necessary.


10:13 AM  
Blogger Kermit said...

I love you guys and pray for our forces overseas daily, and sometimes it seems minute by minute. Yeah - there are a lot of real turd heads that run and read and believe the media folk.

There are even more of us that are with you guys. YOU ARE NOt ALONE! We love and appreciate you. And thank God for your service.

I appreciate you even more than some of the other appreciators. I learned the hard in the Nam.

Kermit - the Green Frog

5:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think Michael is trying to tell us that the vehicles in Iraq are armored. Anybody get that from his posting? :-)

What we really need is am inexpensive handheld scanner that can detect an insurgent out of a population of innocent civilians with 100% accuracy and no false positives. Give our troops that device and they could come home by the end of the year!

6:57 PM  
Blogger Desultory Girl said...

Anon, lol...that's a good summation of the post I think.

That handheld scanner is a great idea.

11:48 PM  
Anonymous RswTx59 said...

Hi new to your site but liked what I read. One of the anon posters commented that almost all the reasons for going into Iraq have dis proven.This person has fallen in the trap set by the MSM.They have obviously never read S.J.Res45,H.J.Res114 that became Public Law 107-243,AKA Further resolution on Iraq.Nor does it appear that they have read the Kay report or the later Dulfer report,that clearly say that even though Saddam didn't posess WMD at the moment,He clearly intended to restart his programs as soon as sanctions were lifted. Keep up the good work.I will continue to read

12:34 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anyone see Trudeau's strip in 6/4 Sunday paper? It was a list of all the troops lost in Iraq and Afghanistan. He's eating some foot now and backtracking. Maybe he read your blog, eh Michael? Keep it up!

11:09 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Do you speak for all of the troops in Iraq when you say that you have plenty of armor and don't need any more?

4:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

//Do you speak for all of the troops in Iraq when you say that you have plenty of armor and don't need any more?//

He's probably speaking to the people that matter to him the most, his unit. He also stated he saw other units who go on missions to have the needed armor.

See, the point is, I take this blog to the viewpoint from someone who is doing the actual fighting in Iraq. Not every single soldier or Marine needs everything armored. Because for every guy going out on missions, there are several more who sit behind the lines doing support functions in relatively safe area's. They do not need hummers with upgraded armor. Nor do they need ballistic body armor when they are peeling spuds are servicing the transmission on a hummer. You see my point?

So when you ask the question "do you speak for every soldier"? know what you are talking about in the first place and know what matters and what doesnt.

3:58 AM  
Blogger MountainDad said...

TO: peety wheatstraw...or whatever your name is.

You say, "I'd like to make a deal."
You do you think you are? Monty -frickin'- Hall? Yeah, as if one of our Warriors is gonna make a "deal" with a little pinhead like you!

In your second post you put forth that lame excuse "I'm for our soldier's, but against the war." But, in your first post you tell Mike that you want to give him a, (LMAO), "blanket party." WOW, now that's "supporting or soldiers!" Man, you sure are one little hypercrit!
You also have a lot of nerve coming on deployed soldier's blog and giving him a hard time.

Peety, for once in your life, you need to drop down to your knee's and thank God that we have people like Micheal serving our country,
and in the next breath, pray that none of my hero's ever meets up you!

9:03 PM  
Blogger MountainDad said...

my bad....

12:38 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


You haven't blogged in a while and I hope you're doing alright. I know you're probably extremely busy, so don't think I'm complaining. I just hope you're staying safe over there in Iraq and no harm has come to you. God speed and God bless!!! Thank you so much for your selfless service to our country! You and all the other servicemen and women are in the prayers of so many back home.

3:31 PM  
Blogger strykeraunt said...

Michael, I too have been a little concerned about the time lapse. I hope everything is okay...

4:10 AM  
Anonymous Wild Thing said...

Doonesbury is an idiot.Sure a lot of people read his cartoon, but my husband and I and many of us know ahead of time the negative slant it always has and it makes us very angry.
Doonesbury would not be able to have his stupid cartoon in any paper if it were not for our troops and our Veterans that have fought for the freedom he has been given from the sacrifices of those in our military over the years.
Thank YOU for all you do and your service to our country.

3:45 PM  
Blogger jcrue said...

A hardy "F*ck you" from men in a combat zone is always well deserved for Gary Trudeau. His idea of difficult circumstances is more along the lines of finding a spot to sit on the subway with all the plebians - that is, IF he takes the subway.

Pick up Heinlein's "Starship Troopers", or let me know how to get a copy to you. It is the best book a crappy movie was ever made from. YOu might appreaciate the honest take on war and society it paints.

Keep your head down and the 240 clean.

Semper Fi,


3:54 PM  
Anonymous vic gilroy said...

Good Soldier,
Have not heard from you in a while.What do my younger brothers think of "I support the troops but I don't support the war"? I view as a "copp out" . Hope to hear from
you soon.
victor formally 1/1 CAV

2:38 AM  
Anonymous Ken said...


I appreciate your point of view. It's nice to get additional perspectives. Especailly from those with boots on the ground. But no one has a full picture. The media doesn't, I don't and you don't. There is probably truth in each, but only a partial truth.
While it sounds like things have improved in the armor department, I can tell you that I spent 12 months in Iraq from April 2003 to April 2004 and we didn't have a single armored vehicle. Not even 'hillbilly' armor.
I didn't have plates for my protective vest the entire 12 months. (Granted our company did get about half as many plates as we needed about two months before we left theater.) For several months, I spent a fair amount of time on the roads around Najaf, Karbala and Hilla with no armor on the vehicles and no plates in my vest. And this was when Sadr and his followers were not being very friendly.
There was another comment here about the National Guard not being adequately equipped. I saw a significant difference in equipment between the Active and the Reserve/NG. That was one of the big failings of preparing our military for war, in my opinion. If you're going to rely so heavily on the Reserves and NG, then you can't equip them with second hand, substandard equipment. The mindset has always been that the Reserves/NG only need the stuff for training. If they get mobilized, which they didn't really foresee, they'll be provided new equipment when they reach theater. Bull. We brought our crappy, broken down equipment and vehicles with us and that was all we had. We had equipment that that they stopped manufacturing repair parts for in the 1980s. So when it broke, it stayed broke.
I just wanted to present an additional perspective on this issue. The situation in Iraq is not all doom and gloom, and it's not all rosy. We can only start to understand the complexity when we get our information from many sources.


6:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ken, my husband has had the same experience in Afghanistan. He's there with his guard unit and they've had to ride around in unarmored Ford Ranger pick-ups. We had to buy him a plate hanger because the ones his unit issued were such crap they were worthless. Every man in his unit, a ranger LRS detachment embedded with ANA troops, had to buy his own motorola radio. In addition, the guys have had to pool their money to get radios for the ANA troops because the government won't give them any.

I'm happy to hear the regular army is well equipped. But seeing that nearly 50% of the soldiers serving in Iraq and Afghanistan are reserves/guard, and many of them continue to be underequipped, Trudeau was making a valid point. Until the government starts living up to its half of the bargain, people will complain and they will have a right to. After all, this is a democracy, not a monarchy. We can question our government and demand that they live up to their promises and our ideals.

My husband's got another six months over there, though his contract expired a month ago. Just two days ago his group was issued an armored vehicle. He is ANA ETT. I'd say that's an important job. But the way he and his crew have been treated in the equipment department, you'd never guess it.

Take care over there, Michael. I hope you return home safe. I am glad to hear your unit is fully equipped. I just wish I could say the same for my husband's unit.

-- Kate

7:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have been surfing reading numerous blogs to get a view from people serving in Iraq and Afganistan. I really appreciate your posts about what you are doing what your days are like and enjoy your photos. (Including your effort to ride that bike.)

But this hateful thread is disturbing.
Most of it is just stupid phrases of propaganda and hateful comments. Latte drinking liberal? Mainstream Media is anti-american?
Doonesbury is a cartoon character and Trudeau is writes a comic strip.


Be well.
I hope you come home safe and well to your family.

3:33 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To all the brave men and women. I know in my heart what you are all doing in Iraq will KEEP us safe for years to come. A iraq man wrote to me once stating that his 5 year old son "now will just live his live unlike him, who at the age of 5 was taught to kill Jews and Americans because it was brainwashed into his head" and he knew nothing else. He told me how much he loves the soldiers and to him the day we bombed IRaq it was "his Fourth of July" that statement alone gave me the goosebumps.
I know this war will take many years and MR Bush told us that from the GET GO but those back in the States who have short time memory loss well "to heck with them". There are more Americans who understand what this is all about then those who are just "hatred bond" to war.
God protect you all and know at least I everynight pray for victory against those who just hate and kill. And your safe return

6:52 AM  
Blogger a-numberone said...

Garry Trudeaus nephew in law was Timothy McVeigh, what can you say.

4:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great blog. I find reading your posts fascinating and captivating. You have a great way with words. If you aren't planning a career in the military, you should consider writing our journalism. Anyway, thanks for serving so that all the uninformed back home can remain blissfully unexposed to the evils of the world. After all, thats why brave men like yourself volunteer for service right? To preserve the innocence. I'm enlisting as soon as my contract in my current job is up. God speed.

9:24 PM  
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9:11 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Army knew since Mogadishu that HMMWVs weren't suitable for MOUT. There were exhaustive lessons-learned papers on that by non-Liberal military folks.

BTW, the "Army we had" was the RESPONSIBILITY of Senior Leadership in DoD, SecDef on down.

Of course the new Lightfighter Army may have just been too studly to consider armor at the beginning.
That would explain why the M113 SFC Smith bravely fought on until killed didn't have an ACAV gunshield. Lessee, the ACAV dates back to the 1960s, but reinstalling them and their TAGS follow-ons was too muvh work?

We won't even go into gun trucks, but good thing the Trans guys read history.

5:28 PM  

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