Saturday, February 20, 2010

Good Book

I'm reading the book, "The Good Soldiers" by David Finkel and it's a tough one.

Washington Post correspondent Finkel chronicles the 15-month deployment of the 2-16 Infantry Battalion in Baghdad during 2007 and 2008, when the chaos in Iraq subsided to a manageable uproar. For the 2-16, waning violence still meant wild firefights, nerve-wracking patrols through hostile neighborhoods where every trash pile could hide an IED, and dozens of comrades killed and maimed. At the fraught center of the story is Col. Ralph Kauzlarich, whose dogged can-do optimism—his motto is It's all good—pits itself against declining morale and whispers of mutiny.

So well written that you are tempted to cry at the futility of it all as Finkel tells you of what he saw while he lived with the 2-16. And he doesn't do a hatchet job for pro-war or anti-war activists. He simply tells you about every day and every soldier.

Sure, I am very much anti-war. No war has ever been won, not one of them, they just slow down to a simmer only to erupt again, years later. But you read of the bravery of these young men and you have to be moved. But read carefully, they hate the war and their bravery is for one another and not for their nation. They have no respect for anyone who hasn't seen what they have and I cannot blame them. They would and will give their lives for a fellow soldier but they would gladly spit on a Senator or Congressperson.

And then there is the military itself; the Army in this case. If it were a corporation it would have failed year ago. Bankrupt. The top echelon is completely removed from plight of the ordinary soldier. Yes, the Generals say otherwise, but actions are what count and these soldiers have definitely been abandoned by the 'Army'. Being a 'Volunteer' Army, they can only hope that they get enough good men and women to volunteer. Good men and women are hard to find though, so the Army has to lower its standards to get enough bodies. And sometimes the results of that policy are disastrous, putting the lives of the 'Good Soldiers' at terrible risk.

Then the aftermath of war comes alive as the author visits the hospitals where the terribly damaged young men of the 2-16 are being cared for. Some for the rest of their lives. The author points out that the lifetime cost for the care of the wounded will easily surpass the cost of the war itself. A good war? There has never been one, only good soldiers.

Read the book. I think you have an obligation to do it. I got my copy from the library and Amazon has a good preview and reviews to read. Link to Amazon…

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