Armed and Curious

Welcome to the first installment of our bi-monthly spotlight on military blogs. Each month we will take a look at two military-related blogs and spotlight some of their more interesting posts. We encourage you not only to read them but head over to MilitaryConnection’s forum and tell us what you think! Feel free to also recommend other blogs for the spotlight.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

Meet Fred, author of Armed and Curious: Home of the Heavily Armed Tourist. According to his profile,

A 42 year old career Army officer on his fourth combat tour. Left an extremely gorgeous, yet tired, wife and 4 great kids behind in Virginia for another year without Dad. I am spending this third OIF tour again working with the Iraqi security ministries, military and police forces.

From Fred’s first post, we learn that he

“decided to give myself a little word outlet and start my own blog figuring its less intrusive than the spams I have sent during my previous two tours of Iraq. Not sure what sorts of things will find their way here but I hope to share some of the things I witness as I return to Iraq again. Being a victim of a mixture of procrastination and hyperactive laziness I imagine I will riff on whatever bright ideas pop into my head as well my thoughts on my mission and life in Baghdad.”

Armed and Curious paints a much different picture of Iraq than Fred would have painted during has last tour two years ago and the transformation of Iraq leads to some incredible posts.  In a post titled “The Biggest Change“, Fred takes us back to meet an old friend of his, MG Qassim Atta who is now the spokesman for the Baghdad Security Plan.

“We had a poll come in and he is believed my more Iraqis to tell the truth than all of the US leaders combined! He is like a rock star here! He actually has women who write and tell him which uniform he should wear for press conferences! Its hilarious cause he is the most humble guy.”

The change that he discusses is that of the Iraqi Army and its transformation in to a heroic fighting force with the willpower and knowledge to back themselves up. In May, 10,000 of the IA went marching in to Sadr City to enforce a recently-agreed-upon cease fire. They went with no US military advisors and flooded the city with good guys.

Fred also takes us on a behind-the-scenes look at the training the Iraqi National Police are receiving from our NATO allies, specifically Italy in his post titled “Sunday With the National Police“. NATO and Italy have brought in the famed Italian national police, the Caribinieri. to begin training the forces a unit at a time. Fred tells us,

Any soldier will tell you that you sort of develop a sixth sense for sizing people up in this line of work. I have learned after 25 years in a military uniform how to look a man in the eyes, watch his movements and see how he carries himself and from that observation get a pretty good measure of the professional within.

What I saw was some real pros parade by us and execute some interesting demos from pulling over a vehicle and searching it, to dignitary protection, hostage rescue and riot control. I honestly don’t think I saw a “show” at all. I saw young men who want to serve their country with pride and their chins held high.

The post that truly stood out for me was one that was not as “rah-rah” but most definitely a look into the soul of both an emerging nation and a man highly invested in that nation’s success. Death Threats and Bad Memories is a poignant look at one piece of an incredible fabric that makes Iraq not only what it is but what we hope it can be. Fred tells us the story of his intrepreter, Bassam. Rather than give it away, I would highly encourage you to head over and read the whole story.

It’s well worth your time.

Thank you, Fred, for your service, your insights, and your blog. Stay safe.