Downrange

“Going downrange” is Army-speak for any movement that takes you closer to where the bullets fly and the bombs explode.  Since last week I’ve moved to a base near the city of Gardez, a step closer to my final destination.  The convoy down was through countryside that looked a lot like the Arizona-California desert, interspersed with some small towns, farms, and orchards.  The area was by no means safe, but the settlements looked calm, organized, and peaceful enough.  Though not exactly prosperous, much had been newly built.  The people either stared or ignored us as we passed.  We took one rest halt in the middle of nowhere, and still were quickly surrounded by a gaggle of kids, including a number of young girls who must have been in their last year or two of freedom before they went behind the veil.

Going downrange implies heightened awareness, tension, and danger.  We do what we can to get ready, but there is still a lot of waiting around, killing time.  For me, that means watching football games on the one TV in camp and working my way through Joseph Conrad stories and novels.  Lord Jim, The Secret Sharer, Youth, and Typhoon down, with Almayer’s Folly coming up next.

I’ll post a picture or two when I can get back on the Internet.

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5 Responses to “Downrange”

  1. Chris Brown Says:

    Hey Pete,

    Thanks for the update. I seem to remember you saying that when you were in Korea, the kids would flock to the soldiers just like you describe here!

    I hate that you have to spend Thanksgiving away from your family. I’ll be here in Bloomington, trying to turn a conference paper into an article.

    I hope that the “downrange” moves further down from you!

    Best and be safe!
    Chris

  2. Pedaldrive Says:

    Hey Pete,
    Did you have a good Thanksgiving? Let me guess: You made a halo jump from 5 miles high at 2am Thanksgiving morning 15 miles across the border with Pakistan. There you looked for bad guys at night and hunkered down in holes during the day for three days. After that you made your way overland, by foot and by commandered “Jinga” truck, to where you were met by a patrol from the 10th mountain division just inside the Afganistan border who got you back to base. Not this Thanksgiving? Maybe for Christmas.

    Stay safe.

  3. Chris Brown Says:

    Hey Pete,

    You’ll be interested to know that in this year’s _Profession 2008_, just published by MLA, there is an article by Geoffrey Galt Harpham called “The Depths of the Heights: Reading Conrad with American Soldiers.” Harpham was invited to the Air Force Academy at Colorado Spring to lead a week’s seminar on _Heart of Darkness_. It’s about the “military perspective on the humanities.”

    Best and be safe,
    Chris

  4. Mark Cohen Says:

    Hey Peter,

    I called to say hello to Song-Hui the other day and to learn how you are. It’s been awhile and Danielle and I think and talk of you often, as always. Your blog entries are great, carefully crafted, which is no surprise. I’ve adjusted to life without a thyroid and it looks like Syracuse will publish my Seymour Krim book. The family is well and I’ve heard that yours is, too. Danielle and I are thinking that Xmas ’09 would be a good time for us to come East and see you. And Danielle can’t wait to work on your future political campaigns (which you may have given no thought to but she has decided upon). So be well and be safe.

    yours,
    Mark

  5. Peter Molin Says:

    Mark–thanks–belatedly–4 years later–WTF?–not sure why I didn’t respond initially.

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