Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Opinion (Cpl. Mark Finelli): Why we need a draft

“Maybe we would have only lost those three instead of 13,” I thought to myself on a dusty Friday in Fallujah in early November 2005. I was picking up the pieces of a truck that hours before had been blown apart by an IED, wondering why our equipment wasn’t better and why three more Marines were dead. Ramadan had just ended, the period in which a suicide bomber gets double and triple the virgins for killing himself in the name of jihad, and my weapons company, Second Battalion Second Marines, had lost 13 men in the last two weeks—not from firefights but from roadside bombs likely being imported from Iran. The insurgents were ramping up their technology, and here we were in the same old trucks. At least these didn’t have cloth doors like the ones last year. But seriously, was this the best technology we have?

Just then I noticed a big vehicle driving by, one owned by a private contracting company. This thing made our truck look like a Pinto in a Ferrari showroom. It was huge, heavy, ominous, indestructible. I wanted to commandeer it. I wanted to live in it. If only we were in one of those, I would definitely come home, and a lot of the guys who won’t would too. As it passed I stared at what I would later learn was called the MRAP vehicle (Mine Resistant Ambush Protective Vehicle). I never thought I would see something in Iraq that enticing, but there it was, rumbling past in all its glory.

I looked at my platoon sergeant. “Staff sergeant?”

“Yes, Finelli?”

“Why are the private companies driving around in these things and not the Marine Corps?” He looked at me and gave the universal sign for money, rubbing together his thumb and forefinger.

And suddenly, I understood.

Read the rest at Newsweek