Training Units to Iraq?

For those who do not know, some of the best and most important training that Army units undergo is in the wargaming sessions at Fort Irwin and Fort Polk. During these wargames, the opposing force (OpFor) is played by Army units permanently stationed at the training centers and tasked to imitate our enemies, pinpointing and exploiting the weaknesses in our tactics and strategies. Now these units, which have not been in combat since Vietnam or even World War II, may be sent to Iraq:

With nearly every other major combat unit either committed to or just returned from Iraq or Afghanistan, the Army is planning to call on two battalions and one engineer company - about 2,500 soldiers - from the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment, which serves as a professional enemy force at the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, Calif. The regiment last saw combat in the Vietnam War.

The Army boasts of the "tough and uncompromising standards" of the 11th Armored Cavalry, which it says makes it the premier maneuver unit in the Army and "the yardstick against which the rest of the Army measures itself."

Similarly, the 1st Battalion of the 509th Infantry, which acts as the Opfor, or opposition force, for light infantry and special operations training at Fort Polk, La., is being called to Iraq, according to two Army officials who discussed the matter on condition of anonymity.

The 509th Infantry has not seen combat since World War II, although five members of the unit served as "pathfinders," or advance scouts, during the 1991 Gulf War; two were killed and one was taken prisoner.

Perhaps even more shocking, at least to me, is this news:

The Navy said Tuesday that it is sending a second aircraft carrier, the USS John C. Stennis, into the western Pacific, apparently to compensate in part for the planned deployment to Iraq this summer of an Army combat brigade based in South Korea.

You read that right. Apparently we are now deploying to Iraq from South Korea. If there was one place I was certain an Army unit might be safe from deployment to Iraq, it was the Korean peninsula.

Potential Terrorist Attack

It is hard to not be nervous about stories like this:

Attorney General John Ashcroft and FBI Director Robert Mueller will hold a news conference Wednesday amid intelligence that has increased concern over the possibility of a major terrorist attack on U.S. soil.

For weeks, security officials have expressed concern about several upcoming high-profile events, including Saturday's dedication of the National World War II Memorial on the National Mall in Washington.

Other potential targets include the G8 economic summit on Sea Island, Georgia, Fourth of July celebrations, the Democratic convention in Boston, the Republican convention in New York, and the Olympics in Greece.

I am not going to say that the potential for terrorist attacks has played a huge part in my life decisions, but it certainly has some power at the margins. I was never much interested in attending law school in New York City, but after 9/11 I did not even consider it. Likewise, I hate big crowds and keep unusually early hours, so I probably would not ride the Metro during rush hour anyway. But the slightest fear that rush hour subways make for a great target makes it even more certain that I will stick to my unusual schedule. It was not enough to keep me out of Washington completely, and my office is mere blocks from the White House. But it does weigh on my mind from time to time, and I cannot help but feel that there has been insufficient effort to help us all learn to deal with this. Too much denial, too much bluster, too much machismo, and not enough straight talk and positive efforts to actually make us be and feel safer.

Document Review

I purposefully got put on a big document review project the firm is working on, because I wanted to get a glimpse of what many seem to consider the bane of a young associate's working life. While it is undeniably mindless work, sometimes it can be pretty interesting. Right now I am looking through about a year's worth of a top financial executive's emails, and it is truly a view into a different world. We split the project up between enough people that no one has too onerous a share, so I will have to confess my first experience with document review has not been unpleasant. I'm sure it would be if I had the whole project to myself, or if the documents were less interesting. But it may be a long, long time before that happens.

Books For Soldiers

I do not know how I went so long without knowing about this program. It fits so perfectly into two of my main interests, reading and the military. Over at Books For Soldiers, there is a forum where you can get the addresses of soldiers abroad along with requests for various types of books and magazines. Just go into your home library (or your basement, if you are less organized), pull down a few relevant volumes, and ship them off to a much appreciated home overseas. Even better, if you have the time, money, and inclination, consider heading to used book sales (libraries and goodwill stores are great for this) or even used bookstores and pick up some books for those serving abroad who no longer share our much taken for granted access to abundant reading material.

I like this program so much, I am going to add a button in the sidebar.

First Week

I apologize for not blogging last week. Between the training, the social events, and the actual work, I was just plain exhausted by the time I got home. I wanted little more than to put on some comfortable clothes and curl up with Emma for a relaxing evening. I finished that book on Saturday, and have to confess to being disappointed overall. I found her character largely unsympathetic, and was put off by how manipulative and self-centered she was almost right up to the book's conclusion. I was not moved by her supposed revelations, and left the book unconvinced that she really had materially changed. Maybe the first week at a big law firm has made me a cynic. To counteract that, I thought I'd breeze through Treasure Island. Hard to be cynical about pirates!

It was an excellent first week at work. I have already gotten involved in several quite interesting cases. I helped put the finishing touches on a petition for a writ of certiorari, took notes in an internal investigation witness interview, and wrote a memo for a reply brief in one of the firm's biggest cases. Today I'm going to sit on the bench in a moot court for a local lawyer (and friend of a partner here) who will be doing oral arguments before the D.C. Court of Appeals soon. That should be fun.

And this weekend I spent a lot of time laying around, recovering from my first ever week of full time work. I did manage to spend about four hour yesterday morning walking around the city, and visited the World War II and Vietnam War memorials. I took a lot of pictures of the former, and should have them posted in the next few days.

And I Thought Instapundit Was Hard on the Media

washtimes.jpg

Gay Marriages

I have articulated at length my reservations about the way that gay marriage has come into existence. I want to put that to the side, however, and say loud and clear that I think tomorrow will be a wonderful day in Massachussetts. I hope many loving and committed couples exercise their rights and add luster to an institution that has excluded them for too long.

Murderer's Parents

It is not that I am totally unsympathetic to the parents of Dylan Klebold, one of the Columbine killers. To whatever extent, ultimately indeterminable, that they could not have predicted or prevented their son's crime, then they too are victims of the Columbine tragedy. They lost their son in two senses: most obviously in the fact that he died, but also in that he left them as a murderer, not as the person they thought he was. In addition to never knowing him again, they found out that they had never known him at all.

Nonetheless, I would have preferred they remain silent rather than give an interview which amounts to little more than evasion, denial, and confrontation. There is precious little that the parents of a murderer can offer to the parents of their child's victims, but I imagine silence is always preferable to defiance.

Spotted

I was wrong. Matt Yglesias still hangs out in Tryst. He saw my last post, sent me an email to figure out where I was in the room, and we just had a nice chat. Apologies to Matt, but I too was surprised at how tall he is. He was very friendly and as brilliant as expected. Everything in person that makes him one of my very few daily reads online. And he was not too hard on me for working at one of the evil D.C. law firms for the summer. I suppose my four year committment to the Army gives me a touch of insulation against charges of being an instrument of pure evil.

We talked Iraq and North Korea, and are apparently in agreement that somehow the world seems to be falling apart without anyone really taking notice. I guess even willful ignorance is bliss.

Hello From D.C.!

Well I'm finally settled in (sort of) in Washington! I went from cite-checking to moving out of my apartment to moving to D.C. within a span of 36 hours on Thursday-Friday, but have now finally placed all my stuff into my summer residence and found time to go looking for free wireless. Luckily for me, Tryst is only a few blocks from my apartment (which is off the corner of 19th and California St. NW). I know Yglesias used to blog from here, until he found some place closer to home.

I can not say I am sorry to have not been blogging this week. The news out of Iraq, both on the Abu Ghraib and the Nick Berg fronts is sufficiently upsetting that I have no desire to try and say something original, even if that were possible. The fact that I almost did not have time to exhale in the last week gave me a good excuse for avoiding the news, and it looks like I picked a pretty good week to do so.

I really like D.C. so far. I have not done too much exploring, but I have spent a few hours walking around the Dupont Circle/Adams Morgan area, and it seems a wonderful place to live. Seeing as it is the capital of the free world, it has more than enough excitement for a small-town homebody like me. But it also has neighborhoods with real character, and is small enough that walking from point A to point B is never that big a deal (though in the heat I have felt this weekend, I am glad the metro is always there for backup). Anyhow, I've only been here 3 days and I already like it much better than I ever liked Boston, which always struck me as too cold and reserved. Paris has always been my favorite city, and largely I think for the joie de vivre that was so easy to find in any number of ethnic neighborhoods. Walking around Dupont and Adams Morgan, I feel a vibrancy that Boston lacked.

With all that said, I do not know just how much blogging I'll be doing this summer. With Tryst so close, I'm sure I can promise at least a few nights a week. More questionable is the prospect of blogging at work. Attorneys at big law firms (and summer associates) who blog are already sticking their necks out a little bit, and I fear that the threshold of inappropriate free speech activity might be crossed by blogging from work, even though I am committed to leaving work almost essentially out of my blogging topics.

That is enought about that. I wanted everyone to know I am happy and healthy and all set for starting work tomorrow. I have a long list of places I want to see in D.C., and would very much appreciate any suggestions on events or locations I should check out. I would also love to have lunch or dinner with any readers or fellow bloggers who happen to be in the area. I have already traded e-mails with a couple of you, but if anyone else wants to meet up for a chat, just let me know.

Finished

Yesterday I finished the second-year of law school. It was a murky experience that defies easy summarization. So I won't try. I enjoyed it, it's over, c'est tout.

This coming week will be one of the more hectic of my life. In addition to the wondrous pleasures of a law review citecheck, I'll be moving out of my apartment, only to then drive up to D.C. on Friday so that I can briefly settle in before my 13-week law firm career begins on May 17. My excitement for both the city and the firm have only grown in the six months since I accepted the offer, and it sounds like they have some very exciting cases that I might have the opportunity to get involved in.

On a less serious but equally important note, I have decided to reinvest myself in the photographic hobby. I became an enthusiastic amateur in the latter years of high school, but sold my Canon 35mm outfit during college to fund other pursuits. My first entry into digital photography was the Olympus E-10, which I had for a few months during my last year of college, but I had to sell it to finance my move down to Charlottesville. Now that my finances are more stable, and I'm spending the summer in one of America's most photogenic cities, I thought it was time to get involved again. If nothing else, it is a hobby that gets me outside. As someone who has become almost wholly devoted to reading, blogging, and playing the guitar, an outdoors pursuit is most welcome.

Long story short, I bought the Canon Digital Rebel with the kit lens, and the BG-E1 battery grip (to make the camera comfortable in my largish hands). It does not have all of the features (particularly full control over exposure) nor the build quality that I would be most comfortable with, but the price is astonishing for the feature set. To accomodate the expected influx of photos, I set up an account at Smugmug. They have a very cool feature allowing "cobranding." Thus if you go to handfulofsand.smugmug.com (or click on the photos link above), you might very well think you haven't left this site. I think that's pretty neat.

Enough for now. I'm going to try and finish Emma, pack some stuff, make some flight reservations, and maybe even relax.