September 26th, 2012


Dear U.S. Politicians

Dear U.S. Politicians:
I don't care what party you are. If you care about the following issues, the first three of which I believe are a direct threat to democracy itself, I will vote for you, contribute money to your campaign, and encourage people to support you.

1. Campaign finance reform: Currently any entity, foreign or domestic can contribute unlimited funds to any candidate with zero accountability, thanks to "Citizens United." Our government has been bought and sold, and no one knows by whom. This must change.

2. Election reform: Efforts to disenfranchise voters since 2000 with the thin veneer of preventing election fraud have resulted in disproportionate numbers of elderly, poor and minority voters losing their most fundamental right and responsibility. Fix this egregious abuse, immediately. There has been no documented instance of electoral fraud, but disenfranchising 10 million Americans certainly is a travesty.

3. No more gerrymandering: Over the past 20 years or so, local party officials (and it's just one party doing this, but if that same party were to reverse their position, I would absolutely suppor them...) have redefined Congressional districts in ways that are geographically impossible, but insure that the voters in that district will consistently elect their party. This runs exactly counter to the spirit of a democratic republic, and must be stopped.

4. Budget reform: Much has been made of this, but no one is even willing to address the most obvious solution: to reduce the absurd military spending, which takes 60% of our annual discretionary funds. Our current defense budget is greater than the next 20 largest nations, combined. How about this - let's reduce it to 20% greater than the 2nd largest defense budget in the world? BOOM - no more deficit. It is completely surreal that not a single candidate is even willing to discuss this.

Neither party is talking about any of these issues. This is a shameful farce. When people say it doesn't matter which party you vote for - this is why; both have been bought and sold by corporate interests, and neither have any intention of changing that. The future of our nation is at risk as a result. Please attend to this immediately. Whichever party does - I will register and vote for your party.

David V. Krieger
U.S. Army veteran
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What's cav like?

Someone on reddit asked me to describe life in the cavalry.

Well - it's a somewhat different world today. I was in back in the 90's - but some things haven't changed. 19D has a long basic/OSUT period - 16 weeks. You will probably go to Ft. Knox, the home of armor, in Kentucky. During that time you'll do all the things that a soldier learns; lots and lots of physical fitness, basic rifle marksmanship, military etiquette, first aid, basic tactics, nuclear, biological and chemical readiness, how to operate radios, a whole myriad of tasks.

About halfway through, you'll switch over to a greater concentration on your job in recon; vehicle identification, land mines, recon tactics (like doing a recon of a route, recon a bridge, zone recon, etc.) You'll also learn advanced weapon systems, call-for-fire, basic crypto, and how to crew an M-3 Bradley CFV. These days you probably also get trained on HMMV, Stryker and MRAPs, but I don't know for sure.

All that will get you ready to go to your first unit. You will have a shitty time punctuated by moments of pure awesome. The particular flavor of awesome you experience will be determined by what kind of unit you are sent to; you may be part of a cav regiment, you may be in the scout platoon of a heavy infantry battalion, or you might be part of a tank bat. Personally, I was attached to infantry, and the flavor of awesome I experienced was jumping out airplanes, helicopters and other moving vehicles; sneaking up on unsuspecting bastards and ghosting through their area of operations to bring intelligence back to the TOC, getting to call for fire from Naval gun batteries and calling for close air support. YMMV.

The flavor of shitty you experience will be fairly universal. As a scout,  your battlefield life expectancy is pretty short - typically you'll be told to at least break squelch before dying. Since you're basically sneaking around looking for trouble, if you do make an unfortunate contact, you'll almost certainly be outnumbered and outgunned. You'll also be doing almost all of your work at night, for obvious reasons. This sounds awesome and ninja, but is not - in fact, it means you'll have to sleep during the day.

And you won't sleep during the day. Because every time you get back to the barracks (or FOB, or whatever) and try and knock off for some sleep, some asshole officer will decide that only lazy bastards would sleep during the day, and he will holler for you to get up, and go clip the grass, paint rocks white, brasso the metal - whatever bullshit detail they need someone to do.

You will become an expert at avoiding officers. This will be the greatest of your ninja skills - to be in the middle of a base full of assholes who want you to clean things, and yet remain unobserved. You will find amazing and creative ways to avoid work.

If you end up in the Infantry as part of the cav scout platoon, you will stand at attention at big parades and watch every member of your battalion get an award, except your platoon, because you're not infantry, you're cav. No blue disk for you, no swanky blue cord. On the other hand, you'll be permitted to wear a Stetson, spurs (if you earn them!) and a yellow bandana to formal events, which is, quite frankly, fucking rad.

You will be the latest inheritor of a long tradition of American cavalry excellence, you will be part of a small, vital, elite and largely unappreciated cadre of soldiers who rather than avoid trouble, go into the night and seek it out, knowing that they're the baddest motherfuckers around.

But really, and in all honesty - you'll spend most of your time cleaning stuff.