Thoughts on the Ft. Hood Tragedy

My condolences to all touched by this outrage. I'm pretty sure I know what the Army's countermeasure against this sort of thing happening in the future is going to be, and it's going to be sadly ineffective.

I'm usually able to come up with a long a reasonably well-thought out post, but this hits way too close to me.

I really have no words to quantify the way this whole goddamned thing makes me feel, but here's an attempt.

You never think of this on a base. Ever.

A military base is a lot of things. It's that thing you dread getting up and going to every day. You're stuck in traffic behind the one gate out of five they have open because of RAM (random anti-terrorist measures) screaming at the gate guards to get the freaking lead out, otherwise you'll be late.

It's that place you spend from 0530-knockoff jaunting around base for parts you probably don't need, shots you'd rather not get, training you've had a thousand times before.

It's also the place where you see your loved ones after long periods of separation. It's setting foot on American soil and looking into those eyes you've thought about every day for months. It's throwing the lines to the pier, the ramp of a transport bird hitting the tarmac, the opening of a bus door while your ears fill with John Phillips Sousa and all that.

It's that place where in a single moment you're able to drop everything you've been carrying mentally for months and months. You don't have to draw a gun on every strange sound in the night (though you probably will.) You don't have to throw your boots on and scramble for flash gear ready to fight a mainspace fire every time you hear something beep (though you probably will.)

In that single moment, no amount of "welcome home" speeches from high-ranking officers, no amount of TV cameras in your face, nothing can say welcome home like seeing the faces of your family and knowing that at least for now - it's over.

In that single moment, that base you hate to drive to every day becomes the greatest place on the face of the earth.

In another single moment, Malik Nadal Hasan shattered that place.

Military bases are supposed to be safe, but not by force of arms - by strength of brotherhood. We get in our arguments and our squabbles like anyone else but at the end of the day, we are brothers and will jump into the maw of Hell itself to pull our fellows out. Nothing special or heroic to it - that's just what we do.

In another single moment, Malik Nadal Hasan walked into a place made safe by strength of that brotherhood and violated its trust and caused the blood of his brothers to be spilled.

And for what? Madness? Fear of danger? Some sense of religious conviction?

I don't think a single answer exists, nor does it matter.

The Army will soldier on, the Navy will continue sailing, the Air Force will keep the skies clear, and the Marines will still be Marines.

But that brotherhood I spoke of has been weakened considerably. Muslim soldiers will notice hushed whispers where before there weren't so many. There'll be slides, and Powerpoint, and training, and a saturation bombing approach to a smaller-scale problem. All of this will happen because the Army has to do something, anything when things like this occur, so they can say they did.

Hasan may be worth more alive from an intelligence and psychology standpoint, but it's far more than he deserves. He'll get to live and get the attention he desperately wants. He won't get deployed, and he won't get the death sentence. There'll be outpourings of support in Fundamentalist Muslim countries.

The man's going to be a hero to the violently disenfranchised and the misunderstood lunatic.

The Army cannot "train" their way out of this problem.

But that is a problem for the brass, troops. Those of you who still wear the uniform, do what you always do. Head up, powder dry, scan 360, and most importantly - take care of your own.

Hug your kids extra tight, brothers and sisters.

Our bases may be safe from a gate-crashing truck bomb, but they will never be safe from madness.


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