a conversation about war
Turned out several of the guys there were ex-armed forces; Marine, Army and National Guard if heard correctly, were in for 10-20 years by the sound of it, sounded like NCOs. All were out now. And they started talking about Iraq and people they knew who were still active or reserve. Not a conversation directed at me, or done to inform me, more casual banter.
This was interesting in and of it self, it was also interesting because the bias in anecdotal information I would normally hear was not there - the people I know in the armed forces tend to be older, commissioned officers, and statistically they must be abnormal because the are much more liberal than published polls on armed force attitudes would indicate.
What was really interesting was the tone of the comments. They were all glad to be out. None were contemplating re-enlistment, though all would have been eligible I'd think, and desirable to have back I'd also think.
But the really interesting info was the second hand comments on their friends attitudes after doing 1-2 tours in Iraq this round; they were, shall we say, not positive in their relaying of their friends experiences.
IF this was representative, the army has 18 months, in my estimation, to get out of Iraq, or they will be done for for a decade. They will lose a significant fraction of their experienced NCOs and have no prospect of replacing them, except by rebuilding from the ground-up, a la post-Vietnam army.
Third hand, anecdotal, worthless. But interesting.