So Much for Supporting the Troops

You never can predict what is going to bother people.

This correspondent takes issue with the fact that our U.S. Army correspondent from Baghdad, Joe Roche (and we), at times have referred to Joe’s unit informally in posts on this blog and elsewhere.

I have read a number of articles written by Specialist Roche; I would correct a glaring error that your military-challenged staff continually make: his unit in the 1st Armored Division is not the 16th Engineering Battalion, it is the 16th Combat Engineer Battalion. Your error tells anyone who reads a Roche article on your web site or elsewhere who has served in the Army or Marine Corps that you are typical Conservative Chicken Hawks who use the military to advance your own ends but would no more serve in the military than a Dick Cheney or a Rush Limbough.

Christopher P. Thompson

West Springfield, Virginia

[email protected]

By the way, the temperature in Baghdad reached 135 degrees yesterday. Joe and his unit, the 16TH COMBAT ENGINEER BATTALION, were working in full gear. Conditions in West Springfield, Virginia, were much more comfortable.

My guess is that this guy’s real beef is that Joe’s e-mails are encouraging Americans not to be discouraged by the nay-sayers among us.

I wonder about those folks who throw about the term “chicken hawk,” however. They clearly believe one has to have served in the military to take a position on our national security policy. Do they also believe only litigants should vote for judges? Only taxpayers should vote at all? I bet many of them would squawk mightily if anyone ever advised that adult non-felon citizens who do not pay federal income taxes (millions of people) should not be able to vote in national elections.

On a personal note, I’m the only staffer who has written about Joe on our website, and I “admit” both that i have used the phrase “16th Engineering Battalion” and that I have not served in the military. I actually considered a military career seriously, but there were two strikes against me. My eyesight didn’t meet the standards (pre-Lasik era), and I’m a girl. Even if I had somehow managed to get around the eyesight requirements, 25 years ago, opportunities for women to make a contribution in the Armed Forces were rather limited. So I spent the first decade of my professional career running public education campaigns and rallies in support of President Reagan’s Cold War posture. It seemed a reasonable decision at the time. I’ll have to ask my assistant what she thinks. She’s a Lieutenant, and thereby — unlike me — is allowed to have opinions on national security questions.

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