It's official. The Georgia Army National Guard is scheduled to deploy to Afghanistan May of 2009 to train Afghani troops. News releases were sent out, and the television, radio and newspapers are all announcing the pending deployment.
Several things need to be said:
1st: It means nothing. The dates, places and mission could change at any time.
2nd: Since it is an official news release/announcement it is extremely vague and gives no true details.
3rd: The timetable is set for 18 months from now. A lot could happen between now and then.
I have had several calls from recruits. Some hoping we will leave sooner, some wanting to know if it affects them. Oddly, no parents have voiced concerns. Yet.
We had our monthly team meeting at my armory yesterday. MSG Ranger went over several things with the X-Men. We are number one on Task Force Spartan. We are 6th in the State but after next week should jump to #2 or #3 slot. We have a contender for Rookie of the year and Chief's 54 Rural on our team. We went over some new software programs available to us. We went over some new recruiting programs such as "Active First". A prospect can opt to go Regular Army for 2, 3 or 4 years then do 4, 3, 2 years Guard and get $40K, $50K or $60K in bonus money. Sweet.
Then MSG pushed aside his paperwork and said, "Let's talk about the deployment. No Bullshit, who wants to go when the 108th goes?" Some hands shot up. Mine stayed in place in my lap. He continued, "There is a right way to go about this and a wrong way to go about this. You need to have the f*ckin b*lls to tell me to my face. You hire your replacement and train them BEFORE you go. " Hooah. He began to talk about how he understood the desire to go. "You hear the sabers rattle, you want to go do what soldiers do!" Hooah. He talked a little about his deployments. 3 time combat veteran. SFC Infantry spoke up about the mission. "Training troops, what does that mean? It means going on raids with them, it means training them in the field, in the classroom, all sorts of places." He was on a similar mission in Iraq. He had a squad of eight E-7's training Iraqi troops.
The MSG Ranger said, "I get it, I get why you want to do this. For those of you who have been...you ain't going. For those of you who haven't, I'll support you going. Some of you need to go. Go get your badges, medals and ribbons...." I slowly raised my hand.
Me: "It's not about that...."
MSG: "Yes it is."
Me: "It's more than that. It's why we enlisted, why we serve, we can't sit back and watch from the sidelines. I don't care about ribbons!....."
MSG Ranger (The look of shock and worry on his face betrayed some of his emotions): "I get that too. I want to go. I've been asked to go. YOU ain’t going. You have babies. You're mama. What about the Payson? You don't need to go. You ain't going."
Then he spoke about a friend of his. He said his friend had once said that he had a calling on his life to be a soldier and if he didn't obey that call he was disobeying God. Tears began to slowly slip down my face as I listened. I knew my calling. I am called to be a recruiter. I silently wiped away my tears hoping no one else noticed. MSG Ranger's voice softened as he looked specifically at me but I don't remember much of what he was saying. I was tuning him out as my emotions raged against my logic.
How can I stay back while "my guys" are over there? I am not bragging but I am a damn good electronics tech. I can fix damn near anything! I can work on radios, radar, anything electronic. I can help!
Then logic kicks in. I am deaf in one ear. While that was not a critical shortcoming in the Navy..... It *is* in the Army. I cannot tell the direction of sound. As commo for the Navy, I was not required to be an operator of the equipment. In the Army, I am. There is no way for me to talk into a radio headset and listen to commands at the same time. I got one good ear and if it is in use....I can't hear anything else.
Last night I was watching "We were Soldiers" with Mel Gibson and (blissful sigh) Sam Elliot. The kids were asleep, my husband was in the living room reading a sci-fi book and watching a farming program. I wanted some time to myself so I sat watching the movie alone in my bedroom. There is a scene where the commo guy is calling in coordinates to HQ. The planes are bombing the enemy according to these coordinates. He gets a set of coordinates wrong. The plane bombs the guys in his troop. LTC Moore reassures him to continue… he does. What else can he do?
Mistakes happen, shit happens. But if I know going in that I am more prone to making that kind of mistake?? Could I live with that? No. So I am no good for commo. I need to reclassify in another MOS. I have a lot of thinking to do. Yes, I have a calling. But... I have a lot of prayin' to do.