Senator Scott Ludlam has posted an excellent blog on his recent visit to Afghanistan. Whilst I disagree with his party (the Greens), he's a very entertaining writer. The whole thing is really worth reading.
I pity the poor bugger - the Greens aren't renowned for getting along with or understanding the military. They just don't get the mindset. Still, I give him full marks for trying.
One bit in particular totally cracked me up:
Pausing at the FOB (the only moment of hostility so far – “Which one’s the Green? You can wait outside the base,”)
Think about that for a minute - in how many armies around the world could a footsoldier get away with a wisecrack like that to a serving member of parliament? And does Senator Ludlam go berserk and demand that the digger be strung from the nearest yardarm? No. He blogs about it so that we can all have a laugh.
It's little moments like that where you realise you really are living in the greatest country on earth.
The other thing I like is that Senator Ludlam is willing to tell it like it is, even if what he's hearing probably clashes totally with everything he believes in:
One thing is pretty clear. The ADF will do what they’re asked – this is a focussed, professional, task-driven organisation and the people at the sharpest end of it spent their lives training to be sent into harm’s way. They are completely, unambiguously aware of the risk – they’ve all attended ramp ceremonies where their mates’ casket is repatriated to family back into Australia.
All the same, there’s an eagerness to prove themselves. The further forward you get, the happier crew are to be there and the less interested in being pulled back into safety. Having spent years training, most of them really, really want to be in theatre.
“This is a great battle lab for us.”
“Al Qaeda has been removed from the battlespace.”
“This is mostly about the US alliance.”
“I’d do this whether you paid me or not.”
Like I said, read the lot. I just wish the "news" that we got from our usual media outlets was this good.