Tuesday, January 25, 2005

A Sniper at Breakfast

I saw a sniper eating breakfast in the mess hall. He sat alone. He was at the side end of one of the long tables sitting in the last seat, his back to the room. The long rifle was on the floor. A small tripod allowed the weapons to rest easy and straight, parallel to the end of the table. This soldier was doing the business at hand and that business at this moment was finishing his meal. He was tall, slim; sat squarely and comfortably in his chair. He leaned forward in a long bend. He was lanky, but not awkward. His back was rounded frontward, from the middle of the back, not the shoulders, positioning him well over the table when he ate. His eyes stayed low and steady on the plate and maybe 12 inches above. He did not look further up and he did not look around. He was not expecting company. He concentrated.

The soldier was of Hispanic origin, but looked vaguely Asian as well. He was here on the behalf of a country of great mixed ethnicity and in service of the Army of that country. The looks he carried, and the blood inside him, symbolized unanimity of purpose, coming from a tradition and organization of wide diversity and important mission.

The rifle was long and thin and weathered. The barrel was black. The wooden stock was dark brown, almost black. You could tell its user was its friend. The scope was a third the length of the rifle. The rifle was where it should have been. It was on the floor, at rest, public, secured, but unobtrusive. The rifle had its ready position, it was expected to wait, and it did.

The soldier was quiet, almost too quiet. He was focused and he was alone. He was young; no more than twenty-two. On the breakfast tray in front of him were two paper containers of cereal. He had a milk carton for use with the cereal and he had a strawberry soda to drink. He had no visitors. He did not eat fast, or too slow. The consumption of breakfast was measured, needed, proper. He did not drink coffee.

The sniper's task for the Army is to bring a precision lethality on a single target. At the right time and location the exactness of his aim could take a life selectively, and that end could save lives. Now was not that time. He was at breakfast. The room was busy, fellow soldiers were eating, and the course of the day was just getting underway.

No days go by that I don't think of the American military in the war zones of Iraq and Afghanistan and in the hundreds of other locations our forces are serving. The above blog post was copied from a soldier's website, Iraq-Update. It's well written and informative, so go visit and comment. With the MSM overwhelmingly negative with regard to the American military, there needs to be an antidote and words from regular citizens are most welcome morale builders. I'm sure any communication would be greatly appreciated.

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