Thursday, April 07, 2005

El-ahrairah's Continuing Iraqi Saga, Episode V

(Posted from an e-mail at his request, slightly edited for spelling and grammar -- CH)

El-ahrairah’s Continuing Iraqi Saga: Stupid Military Rules and Regulations

Living on a military base can be interesting and fun, but one of the things that you have to put up with is military rules and regulations. Some of the rules make sense but are made for the wrong reason and others are just plain dumb.

On the base, the computer network and Internet access are controlled by what we call, the Net Nazis. Since the military cannot allow you to have unlimited access to the Internet, they control access to certain sites. You can pretty well be sure that anything that has to do with sex or pornography is blocked, no matter whether you happen to be in the US or in Iraq. They also block access to sites that are big time wasters, e.g., anything to do with on-line gambling, on-line gaming, on-line chat rooms, etc. Although there is a military regulation for what should and should not be blocked, it is sometimes a crapshoot whether your favorite site is blocked or not. Case in point, back in Italy, Yahoo! web mail and Excite web mail are blocked, but they are wide open here. However, the website and other web logs are blocked here whereas they were open in Italy. The Warren website is open but only because I think our address is kind of strange and not your run of the mill blog address.

Besides the Net Nazis, we have the Postal Nazis also. The military controls what you can and cannot mail home for the basic reason that many of the United States finest would mail home AK-47s and hand grenades if they could in a heartbeat. So, as a result, if you send something home, you have to have your package inspected by postal employees. The laundry list of items that cannot be mailed home under any circumstance is rather long and tedious but sufficeth to say that most anything that a normal American GI would like to send home as a souvenir is off-limits.

Many times, military rules are knee-jerk reactions to an incident. Like the old saying, one person can ruin it for every one else, the military has a penchant for doing just that. For example, one of the stupid military rules that we have to live by is that it is against the rules to walk around outside in open-toe shoes (sandals, shower shoes, etc). So, if you want to take a shower, you must wear a pair of normal shoes to the shower where you can take them off and put your shower shoes on before getting into the shower. It would be much easier just to wear your sandals to the shower, but that would make too much sense. This rule is probably a good one for the reason that with scorpions and other little nasty biting/stinging insects running around, you could get stung/bit on the foot if you happened upon one, especially at night. However, the reason given was that if there was a bomb alert, you could stub your toe and fall down while running for a scud bunker which is probably what happened one night. There was a scud alert and somebody was running for a scud bunker and fell down and hurt him or herself ergo, we need a new rules to avoid this type of mishap.

Another rule which doesn’t seem to make sense is the dress code at the swim pool. No Speedos, no bikinis and no thongs. Women must wear swimsuits which cover their chest, abdomen and buttocks. Again the reason is that we don’t want to offend our host nation’s sensibilities, but if that’s the case, why do they sell men’s magazines like Maxim, Stuff and FHM (which are chock full of women in bikinis and lingerie) in the BX? If they are worried about battle-hardened soldiers “losing it” when they see bikini-clad women at the swim pool, why sell magazines which could be called Playboy Light?

This leads into yet another of our military rules which kind of makes you wonder about the officer who thought it up. The rule has to do with sex. All sexual activity is off limits (the military calls it “cohabitation”). I can see where this is probably one of those rules that makes sense in a military environment, but as usual, the military will go over board at the implementation. Not only all sexual activity is off limits, but all kissing, hugging, hand-holding, looking at members of the opposite sex for more than two seconds, etc. are also off limits. We even have our own “chastity police” comprised of senior NCOs and officers which go out looking for “illegal” activity. I guess the reason for this is that Iraq being a Muslim country, contact between members of the opposite sex is strictly controlled and we don’t want to offend our host nation sensibilities.

That’s all well and good, but if that’s the case, why do they sell condoms in the BX?

These are the most blatant examples if the dichotomy between the words “military” and “intelligence” that I have encountered so far. Needless to say, they probably won’t be the last before I leave here.


At 7:07 PM, Blogger Rosemary said...

Cpt. Holly, I thought they kept girlie mags out of sight? How does he know they're there? Hmm. Condoms? Are they visible also? Hmm? LOL.

I admit that it gets ridiculous, and on behalf of my gender I would like to extend our most sincere apologies! I did not have anything to do with it, except for the fact I wanted to join.

Don't worry. This was back in 1980, and I didn't pass the eye test. That sucks! They told me if I had no eye, instead of an eye with glaucoma, they would take me. I seriously thought it...then I came to my senses. Hey, that's my eye! LOL. How could I see the manly mags without my eyes? LOL. Have a great one.


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