An American Soldier in Iraq
July 12, 2003 7:36 AM   Subscribe

An American soldier maintains a weblog from Iraq. It contains details about his day to day life as a non-combat (and non-career) soldier during this conflict. Some people think he is an imposter, others think he's a dissident for using his voice in any manner other than as a Stars and Stripes reporter would. Thanks to I thought his weblog was interesting, including his responses to people's assertions that he isn't real or is somehow a dissident for using his voice. Thanks to Sensible Erection for the link.
posted by substrate (27 comments total)
I suppose I should have said that Sensible Erection may not be safe for work, the underaged, the uptight or the repressed.
posted by substrate at 7:38 AM on July 12, 2003

Why can't... he just... use a period... at the end... of a sentence... instead of ellipses... ?
posted by RylandDotNet at 8:35 AM on July 12, 2003

*shrug* stream-of-consciousness-blogging?
posted by shadow45 at 8:45 AM on July 12, 2003

berate me if i'm stupid but how does this guy get internet access? does the military supply it? does whatever passes for a government in iraq provide it? is it a private for profit ISP? does the tent city have what, a T1 coming in? is there a telephone jack alongside the outliet into which he plugs his "frig"? coax cable? wireless via the battlefield network? how does this work?
posted by quonsar at 9:06 AM on July 12, 2003

Some of them do have internet there now, but how they are doing it I don't know. I get about an email a week from one of my friends over there. It might depend on where you are.
posted by Orb at 9:31 AM on July 12, 2003

When I read the FPP, I thought for sure the 'blog link was going to lead here instead -- it's much better written although with an entirely different sensibility.
posted by alumshubby at 10:13 AM on July 12, 2003

or lack thereof...
posted by quonsar at 10:26 AM on July 12, 2003

i must have asked the million dollar question. everybody devours these war front blogs like dear_raed. people salivate over his every word, but nobody wonders how they get connected in the first place?
posted by quonsar at 11:51 AM on July 12, 2003

q, I don't know if this article entitled If we run out of batteries, this war is screwed would answer your questions or not, but regardless, it's a fascinating look at the technology set-up behind the war and the geek soldiers who run it. I thought it had been posted here before, but I couldn't find it. Well worth a read.

I haven't read enough of this blog to know, but maybe this guy is in tech support? or Administration, or some other area that would allow him access to blogging. Who knows. Maybe like Salaam Pax, the truth will be revealed eventually.
posted by madamjujujive at 12:35 PM on July 12, 2003

Chief Wiggles is a US Army Warrant Officer who is currently in Iraq. There is no doubt about if he is really there or not.

A good read.
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 12:41 PM on July 12, 2003

i don't doubt they are there. i want to know how they get connected. specifically.
posted by quonsar at 12:43 PM on July 12, 2003

all he needs is a browser on a pc. there are going to be pcs everywhere.

what are you asking for - a wiring diagram? you think they're running logisitics with smoke signals? there's going to be a pile of computers over there and computers aren't worth crap all these days unless they're on a network. put any computer on a network, leave it in the hands of someone with little to do, and you're going to get web browsing. you may as well ask how, "specifically", they get their food - it's just basic necessities, for a modern superpower's army.

posted by andrew cooke at 1:17 PM on July 12, 2003

The link above was masked, so another vote for Lt. Smash, who is fabulous. I look forward to his postwar book. Does anybody know what he does in the civilian world?
posted by jengod at 1:31 PM on July 12, 2003

so in other words, andrew cooke, you don't know.
posted by quonsar at 1:36 PM on July 12, 2003

and no, i KNOW they are not running logistics with smoke signals. they are using microsoft chat. several steps below smoke signals.
posted by quonsar at 1:38 PM on July 12, 2003

Quonsar, et al--web access for US soldiers in Iraq is not as uncommon as you think.

Some of you already know this because I had a link on my user page for awhile, but my father was reporting from a MASH-unit fleet hospital just outside Baghdad until June 3rd (when his tour ended) using a blog I set up for him. He's an internal medicine doc with the Navy and was sent over about a week before the war began. His notes from the war are very bitter and very detailed. Especially when the contingency plans fell through, the Arabic translators never materialized and suddenly they were up to their elbows with both USMC and wounded Iraqis.

To make a long story short, within a week of setting up their tent an informatics crew arrived with a network setup as part of a project my father had helped develop--using palmtops in the war arena to tally statistics, casualties and to beam info back to base. The informatics operation allowed him internet access whenever he wanted it, and he said it was not uncommon in tent cities and fleet hospitals all over Iraq and Kuwait. Imagine my surprise when I'd said goodbye to him in March, not expecting to hear from him for six months, only to have him email me late at night about two weeks later having just been awake 30 straight hours putting bodies back together.

I almost posted the link to MeFi because his perspective and photos were the kind of thing you can't find in the mainstream news. He wasn't, and isn't, keen on the idea of publicizing it, though, because he's due to retire in about three years and wasn't sure what repercussions it could have that could land him in trouble. That's why I took the link down.
posted by dhoyt at 2:27 PM on July 12, 2003

i never said or implied i thought net access was uncommon. i wanted to know how these people were getting hooked up, you and juju are the only ones to offer any relevant information. i understand that you may impute that i imply whatever due to my bombastic leftward cant in general, but i just really wanna know how internet works in strange faraway places filled with death and destruction. the basic facts of getting connected. we'll leave the meaty questions like "isn't that just a huge fucking security hole on an active military net and what the hell is the military thinking" for later discussion. :-) thanks for the fascinating info, dhoyt.
posted by quonsar at 3:16 PM on July 12, 2003

I can ask my dad and see what info he has to offer, though his big thing was helping establish a viable wireless network long before the war started. His primary concern once he was there was saving lives.

When he got home I never asked specific questions about what the informatics guys set up for them, because, sadly, I probably wouldn't understand it anyway (or much care).

Sad that a man his age is more tech-savvy than his son!
posted by dhoyt at 3:55 PM on July 12, 2003

sorry quonsar. obviously i should have used more words. if i'd told you they used wires and satellites and routers, would that have made you happier?

my comparison with food wasn't flippant. do you think normal technology only works in america and everywhere else needs something different? that there's some magic kind of wiring that works without electricty - string between cans perhaps?
posted by andrew cooke at 5:00 PM on July 12, 2003

Chief Wiggles is hooked up because he emails his entries to yours truly and I put them on his blog.
posted by Plunge at 5:05 PM on July 12, 2003

They're building a nice little plywood shed at one end of the bunker that the company will use as an Internet cafe, with up to four computers for soldiers to e-mail home, said Lt. Jason Toth, the company executive officer. ~ source

Although some soldiers have had Internet access from the front, he said, much of the use appears to come from support units in the rear.

and ...

Two of her friends with the Army's 101st Airborne Division have laptops, including a tank driver on the front lines. ~ source (popup warning)

You'll find a little more info about wartime internet access here.
posted by Orb at 6:10 PM on July 12, 2003

He does this interesting and short meditation about what its like being a soldier. Here's a snippet:
more and more people are coming to my attention who feel that to not support this war is to be not support the war means that you do not support the troops...i highly disagree..."supporting the troops" could equal "bring them home"...believe me...we won't be offended...we hate it here...but as long as the government says there is a job to do...we will stay...until completion...thats what we do...
posted by skallas at 6:33 PM on July 12, 2003

quonsar, to be obsessed, to the point of ignoring what people are telling you, with the mechanics of connection is frankly bizarre.

have you no actual interest in what people are doing with their connection?

it reminds me of someone witnessing the crucifixion and only wondering what wood the cross was made of.
posted by quarsan at 1:35 AM on July 13, 2003

The link above was masked, so another vote for Lt. Smash, who is fabulous. I look forward to his postwar book. Does anybody know what he does in the civilian world?

To judge by his nom de plume he watches really, really shitty episodes of The Simpsons. Sometimes, I'm embarassed to get the reference.
posted by Mayor Curley at 2:45 AM on July 13, 2003

quarsan, i apologize for not having appeared to be interested enough in what use the connections were being put to. i realize this is a huge faux pas and it has probably been a horrifying insult to you personally. rest assured that i do indeed wonder about ALL the uses to which internet access in the war zone is being put. i am interested in how and to what extent access and information outflow is being monitored and censored. i am interested to know what the ratio of outbound blog entries to inbound farm animal pron is too. as i said quite clearly above, i'm leaving those questions for later, and i may pursue them for my own gratification or i may not, but first i wished to understand the mechanics of the very existence of the connection. oh, by the way, the crucifixion analogy was first rate - my deepest and most sincere admiration on whipping that one up. i myself would have been unable to resist using it.
posted by quonsar at 9:08 AM on July 13, 2003

All this has me wondering if there are any shipboard-based sailors' 'blogs out there. Anybody got links to share?
posted by alumshubby at 12:00 PM on July 13, 2003

if anything, any lingering question of mine--not based upon much familiarity with former's je ne sais quoi--as to whether quarsan was quonsar in a second account has been definitively settled.
posted by y2karl at 3:05 AM on July 14, 2003

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