A tiny tribute
I saw this amazing photo essay about our soldiers in Afghanistan. It is a masterpiece of photography, and very poignant, especially the pictures of soldiers suffering from heat exhaustion and carrying what looks like their own weight in gear. And the pictures of Afghani children playing among the ruins. More than anything else I've ever seen about this war, these pictures give a real sense of what it must be like to be there.
My heart goes out to these brave volunteers, who have been fighting this war for eight years now (almost Aleksa's entire lifetime) under horrible conditions, who are trying their best to protect the good people of Afghanistan while rooting out the Taliban and the terrorists, a nearly impossible task given that the enemy look exactly like the civilians. The military's stop-loss program means that many of these guys are on their second or third tour of duty. There's still no end in sight to the war, and history suggests that Afghanistan is essentially unconquerable and ungovernable.
Before our politicians send one more soldier to Afghanistan, I want them to answer one simple question: what are our victory conditions? What would it mean to "win" this war? Under what circumstances can we declare the war over and stop sending soldiers over there to die? I know, I know, as soon as we pull out the Taliban is probably going to take over again and everything's going to go to hell there. It's a dilemma. I'm not saying there's any easy answer. But it can't be our responsibility to prop up the Afghan government forever. (Same goes for the Iraqi government). When does it end?
Anyway, here's something a little more cheerful. The photo essay made me want to express solidarity somehow, and I had a bunch of Warhammer 40k Imperial Guard miniatures lying around in the craft room. I bought them years ago and never painted them because I couldn't figure out what color scheme to use. So I decided to take my best shot at painting the uniform our troops are wearing in Afghanistan (Universal Camouflage Pattern, desert variant - tan with digital splotches of brown and grey-green) as a sort of tiny tribute.
Of course the U.S. army pictures didn't show me what color to paint the chainsaw swords, since for some reason we're not giving those to our soldiers yet.
The Imperial Guard in 40k are the faction you gotta feel sorry for. They're just regular folks in way over their heads, sent to horrifying alien battlefields with inferior weaponry and insufficient training. The Imperium of Man throws their lives away by the millions, sending them into hopeless meat grinder battles just to slow the enemy down. But individually, they're sympathetic characters, so you root for them no matter how much you disagree with the aims of their government.
Of course, any similarity between this game fiction and the situation of the U.S. military is strictly coincidental.