Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Capitol Fun



Shortly before graduation/commissioning, I took a trip to DC to see friends at GW, AU, and Georgetown, fulfill my dream of running down Embassy Row, and go to night spots filled with WASPs and overpriced (or so I thought before I went to Vegas) drinks.

Oh yeah - I got to meet personal hero Andrew Exum. Basically, he was an infantry officer (like me, eventually) and a PL in the Rangers (probably won't do that), and after he got out he decided to study at AUB (like me) and be an all-around speak-Arabic-know-about-the-Middle East kind of guy (like I pretend to be). He works for a sweet defense think tank with John Nagl (helped write the Army counterinsurgency field manual) and a host of other scholar/soldier badasses. I found out about him through his blog, Abu Muqawama, which is exactly like mine, except no drawings and an informed and thoughtful commentary on events abroad, US policy, and CT/COIN instead of a warped personal narrative.

Should he discover this post, I hope he'll appreciate the stylistic tribute to his blog, where pretty much every other sentence is a hyperlink.

I got in touch with him through a colleague of his who spoke in my Terrorism & Insurgency class (yes, I took that) and a professor. I showed him my blog (which he linked to on Twitter, resulting in more views than ... ever), one thing led to another, and he took me up to his office to chat and have breakfast. I ordered poorly (see illustration).

He seemed rather busy, but we talked about Army stuff for a while, and he said something that (as I best remember it) particularly resonated with me:

You will not use your intellect as a platoon leader.

Not to mean that you don't need to think and use your head, but that it's really about dealing with people and looking like a stud - which is apparently more about fitness and marksmanship than propensity for witty quips and poignant analogies.

It meant a lot to hear that from him - though I'm still not sure how well I'll be able to keep the Moshe Dayan separate from the Larry David when I'm out there.

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