18 May 2010

My birthday request. Please pass along

My family, friends, peers & fellow veterans...

You're receiving this email because I have very important favor to ask of each of you.

Friday is my birthday (number 33, for those keeping score at home). As I'm sure for many of you, these days are flying by so quickly, Friday feels like it'll be just another day in this blistering pace of life.

But 2010 is a very important to me, because I want to ask all of you for one of the biggest gifts I've ever asked for. My great friend (and actually Brooke's godfather) Brian Miller, is running for Congress in Arizona, (District 8, encompassing Tucson, and to the south & east).

Having just separated from active duty Air Force as an A-10 attack pilot (Brian remains a Major in the USAF Reserve), Brian has literally run this campaign from scratch. Unlike his primary competitors, and his general election foe, he has boot-strapped this campaign literally from dollar 1, and day 1. I know Brian extremely well (in fact, he is solely responsible for keeping me in ROTC back in 1996, and in many ways, keeping me at NAU), in short, there's nobody I would be more proud to see in the US House, than Brian and his family.

Brian Miller is the embodiment of everything our Founding Father's envisioned, in establishing the House of Representatives; principled, a servant-leader, federalist, constitutional conservative that is the visionary behind The Freshmen 50, a non-partisan PAC that aims to put 50 new congressmen in office with an oath to restore fiscal sanity to Washington. Brian Miller's leadership is without peer, and is an absolutely critical candidate at this moment in our nation's history. Here's a Human Events article that highlights his vision.

However, Brian isn't the career politician that one of his opponents is, and doesn't come with mommy & daddy's checkbook & daddy's salary as does his other opponent, so the financial road he is hauling is a substantial one. Make no mistake about it, as much traction as Brian's hard work & tireless effort have bought him--money still makes campaigns "scale". And that's what Miller's campaign needs now more than ever. Brian will win the general against Gabby Giffords, if he can buy enough financial "runway" to allow this jet to keep gaining altitude. In the arena of ideas, and quality of candidate, there is no match for Brian, but frankly, he's got to add some fuel to keep scaling his message--money buys you reach in politics.

That's where you all come in, as my birthday comes upon us. I want to ask that each of you give $20.10 to Brian's campaign to restore this Representative Republic, and restrain the encroachment of Government. Honestly, if you can give $210.00 or more, please do, if you can only give 2 lattes ($7), please do.

And then I ask--this part is critical--that you each please forward this to 5 people that you can trust to act, and do the same. This is crucial to me--you have been chosen because I honestly believe that you will each honor this request. Please, fuel the brushfires of freedom. Give Brian the $20.10 that you would otherwise spend if the two of us were to grab a couple beers on my 33rd birthday. Please fuel this campaign. Please help it continue to reach all of Southern Arizona. Please put a true, citizen legislator, hero and patriot in office this November from my dusty ole' hometown.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

- In Liberty


28 March 2010

A running tally of the destructive costs of "health care"

I fully believe the "Health Care" bill just passed unilaterally by the democrats in congress will be the single most destructive piece of legislation I will see in my lifetime. This march towards socialism, this marxist-driven utopianism is such a failed disaster--with so many data points all throughout that last century--it is literally the recipe I would want to see the enemies of the United States mired in.

It's unconscionable to me why this president, why this congress is seemingly hell-bent on reshaping the United States in the image of the evil empire that crumbled around me when I lived in Germany in the early 90's. Think the communist, socialist, marxist label is rhetorical? Well, the Communist Party USA doesn't think so. Fidel Castro loves it.

Whatever you may feel about unsustainable debt-spending, anyone might expect a health care bill to actually, I don't know...fund something healthcare related. Is there more money for doctor's? Nurses? Medical schools? Surgeons? No? Really? What about the world's greatest drug companies? The ones that lead R&D to cure diseases and improve the quality of life? No again...However, there is $10 B in funding for 16,500 new IRS agents to enforce the individual mandate.

However, what honestly angers me the most is the absolute deliberate deception, lies and flat-out logic-defying insanity regarding the costs of nationalizing 1/6th of the largest economy in the world. The double-counting of funds, the beyond-rosy economic projections, the claims about taxes, redistribution of wealth and re-orienting our nation in the most dramatic, perhaps unrecoverable manner. We have lunged from individual responsibility and liberty to centrally controlled, planned & bureaucratically distributed in this reshaping effort.

What fundamentally upsets me is the language, the talking points and deliberate effort to obfuscate this from real debate. If your objective is a single payer system, then say so. And let the US decide if that's the "reform" we want. Don't cram marxist incrementalism down our throats. Let's have an honest discussion about all of the unfunded liabilities the nation faces right now--or if the US is already fundamentally bankrupt--and let American's decide if they want to saddle their children with this burden. Let's have an honest look at what projections for past Government programs were, and how those played-out (Medicare was supposed to be $9B/year, and is actually $67B/year now--and rising), and decide if American's think that Congress' reckless spending--stealing from future generations--is sustainable, and worth this plunge into the entitlement that dwarfs all entitlements. Let's have an honest discussion about what would happen to any household or business in the world if it were run financially like the US Govt is right now. This running blog will be commentary--and even better yet--a scorecard--to hold this president and congress responsible for their words, 'promises', claims and actions in this "health care" bill.

Filed in the "some people will say anything to get elected category": "Our Constitution places the ownership of private property at the very heart of our system of liberty.... The result of this business culture has been a prosperity that's unmatched in human history.... Our greatest asset has been our system of social organization, a system that for generations has encouraged constant innovation, individual initiative and the efficient allocation of resources." - Barack Obama, "Audacity of Hope"

28 Mar 2010

So, not a bad week one for Obamacare. Unlike the administration, which will literally say whatever is convenient, public companies are fiducially & legally responsible to address its costs.

First, the legendary company John Deere--of whom Obama once said was an indicator of the US economy--immediately released a statement detailing the damage the bill would cause this year: $150M in value wiped-out by Obamacare at former Dow-30 manufacturing bell-weather Deere Company. An American icon that employs 50,000 people.

Second, Verizon tells its employees to expect their insurance costs to increase, and that they can expect to lose the highest quality plans in the future. Verizon employs 900,000 people. Remember that. 900,000 American families, with an order of magnitude more children insured by their hard work at a Dow-30 company

Not to be outdone, one of America's most historic and resilient firms, AT&T, announced they would take a $1B charge on health care reform. One BILLION dollars in shareholder wealth value destroyed. One BILLION dollars that have been earned through providing goods & services, to be paid to its employees and distributed to its owners. A company that you undoubtedly own as a part of most large cap mutual funds, index funds, independently managed retirement funds, or your company's pension fund. A company that Grandma's and Grandpa's depend on in retirement (as my Grandparents do, through the dividend it pays), a company that employs 200,000 people.

Lastly though, what outrages me beyond words is that the authors of this bill are in fact exempt from having to be thrown into the pit of health insurance mediocrity. They exempted themselves, and their own families, but will parade their narcissistic faces in front of the nearest camera to tell us "take your medicine, it's good for you." Unbelievable.

29 Mar 2010

What happens when the US credit rating is down-graded? (for you Liberal Arts majors; different independent firms like Moody's and S&P objectively rate companies and countries abilities and likelihood to repay their debt obligations) Well that's exactly the apocalyptic scenario floated by Moody's just before the "health care" bill was signed into law. A downgrade of the US's debt rating would have catastrophic consequences on our fiscal landscape--when we are already teetering on the brink of insolvency. The portion of the US budget, let alone the portion of GDP allocated to interest payment on debt alone, would sky-rocket, as the borrowing would become more expensive. Just as millions of interest-only loans, and ARM's readjusted to send shock through the financial system, from sub-prime all the way through prime rated borrowers, the US's debt downgrade would be unbelievably painful.

This nation is desperate perils financially right now, and needs leadership--actual substance over style--now more than ever in my lifetime.

31 Mar 2010

Thank God--and Algore--for the internet. Filed again under, "people will say anything to get elected", the president himself argues articuately against the individual mandate. Oops.

It was never rhetoric--it was always the most logical deduction & basic economic understanding when "health care" takeover opponents would retort, "You think health care's expensive now, just wait till the Government takes it over." As if on cue, the AP rightly notices, that premiums could immediately jump by 10-30% for those of American's actually paying for this ponzi scheme.

What a disaster...

19 April 2009

A Love Like I Never Imagined

First of all, I just want to acknowledge the fact that I don’t write that often anymore. I don’t blog—although I have a million things I’d like to say—I don’t use the bulletin/notes on Myspace/Facebook like I once did, and even my Twitter usage has dropped-off pretty dramatically.

Two of my goals over the past three years have been to write a book about manhood and to build and grow a blog about leadership with focus on the worlds of business and sports.
Those frankly, just aren’t as much of a priority right now, nor is it practically feasible.

So, I don’t write or blog all that often (read: ever), but I’m applying to three top-15 business schools, entering into Raytheon’s very selective Six Sigma Expert program, and we’re pursuing custody of Taylor & Brooke in Colorado…all while intentionally and lovingly leading/teaching/loving Emma, Laura & Caroline while Jill and I do a lot of great, deep intimate work on the foundation of our marriage and friendship.

So, writing, isn’t on the backburner…it’s back in the freezer. My voice and time is just needed in so many other places right now!

All that being said, I just have to pour out about my adoration, amazement and insanely intimate love for my bride, Jill Still.

Sometime last year, after reading some of Sacred Marriage with Jill (a gift from Bruce and Amy Bechold), I wrote a blog about how God designed marriage for our holiness, not our happiness. Of course, in God’s grace, it’s through that deep abiding pursuit of His will for our lives, that we lovingly experience true, deep & pure joy, as we find ourselves in rhythm with how He’s designed us.

I feel so humbled, so incredibly blessed to be able to say, the year-and-a-half that I’ve spent with my soul mate have been an embodiment of this love and grace. In a word, it has been amazing!

Right now, I wake up every morning to the most beautiful woman I’ve ever seen. I spend each and every day talking through life with the best friend that I’ve ever had. I spend each night with the most amazing wife, friend and mother, going through the trials, the challenges, the laughs, the journeys, the joys, the movies, the messes, the bills, the adventures, the confusions, the silliness, the setbacks, the lessons, the teachings and the goofiness of life.

God put the idea of ‘servant leadership’ on my heart long before I became a true believer, and before I really had to live out the idea of loving, humble, leadership. I was a newly commissioned 2nd Lieutenant in the Air Force when I first realized that I could “lead from where I was at”, and the best way to do so was in service to my leadership—even though as an officer I might have legally outranked 85% of the military, it was incumbent upon me to humbly serve “where I was at”. I now believe this is one the character foundations that God’s been growing in me for 10 years now, to best prepare me for this marriage and the challenge of being a daddy/step-dad/father-figure to five girls (and someday maybe more?!).

I know with everything in me, that all leadership, direction, vision, tone, and responsibility for this family rest on my shoulders. I also know with everything in me, that I cannot handle marriage, work, family and household without the amazing compliment, balance and partnership of Jill. I know I’m the leader and I know God’s set a clear direction & vision on my heart for our family. I also know that if I allow my natural inclination and disposition to take-over and direct (as I would with men) overcome my appointment& responsibility to lovingly walk alongside my wife as we lead these girls, in empowerment, teaching, talking, then I am failing Jill, and each of the five girls.

And it doesn’t always play out like that. Jill, Emma, Laura and Caroline (as well as Taylor & Brooke when they’ve been with us) are the most accurate barometers of my leadership. I know when I’m wrong, when I’m off. I can feel the impact of my sin when I fall short of that ideal…and it’s this gauge that God has lovingly used for what I call my “sanctification on steroids”.

Whew…let me tell you, there’s no emotional status check like living with three-to-five girls ages 7-11, and one beautiful, deeply complex, fragile and stunning beauty of a wife. Again, I know when I’m not living out the ideal of servant leadership in my marriage and home.

But what’s brought Jill and I to this place where we’re living in a marriage that neither of us ever dreamed possible is not necessarily an ideal, a vision or a mission in our life…no, it’s the practical good ole hard, diligent work that we’ve put into the marriage. “Grinding”, by the grace of God!

The first golf analogy for our marriage is the need to “grind”. Tiger Woods talks about it all the time. Those days, or those rounds where he doesn’t have his “A-game”, or his putter is failing him a bit, or he just can’t seem to hit fairways…what does he do? Does Tiger wrap his 5 iron around a tree and quit? No. He grinds. He goes out there and literally approaches every single shot with the perspective and effort to make that shot excellent. He grinds…often he grinds his way up the leader board and into victory, or at least into position to make a great move on the day that he does have his A-game.

How is this like marriage? Well, simply, most of life is a grind. If you don’t believe that, perhaps it’s time to put down the bong and stop playing “world of warcraft”. Because life is a grind. Marriage is a grind. Everything in the world, from relationships, to work, to families, to temptation of every sort, and especially finances make marriage exceedingly difficult. (I would say even more so, if you’re newly married with a blended family, custody pursuit and both recovering from past painful marriages!) As I tell the girls all the time, “Life is hard. Every year in school and in life will be harder than the last. When you accept this, you will see it ceases to be as hard because we’re prepared for it to grow more difficult.”

Yes, Jill and I have been grinding big-time—and it’s produced incredible joy! Another golf analogy that I love to use; If Tiger Woods is the greatest golfer in the world (which he is—he’s the greatest of all time), and has the most acute awareness of every aspect of his golf game, but still works with a swing coach, what should that tell us about our own lives, and our need for expert counsel? I’m such a huge believer that everyone should routinely see a counselor. I don’t care what the machismo, self-reliant, prideful stigma in our culture says, counseling and therapy is an amazing resource!

Jill and I have been seeing a Christian, pastoral counselor every week. I started going on my own, then Jill and I started going together. Later, we broke apart and started seeing the same guy, but at different times. We’ve come back together for couple counseling when we’ve needed to, but for the most part, we’ve worked with this amazing, Godly man in parallel. We then spend Weds and Thurs evenings talking through whatever revelations were made, or whatever tools we’ve learned, or whatever insight we’ve gained. Grinding. The time has been so amazing to just enjoy a couple glasses of wine, decompress and spend some uninterrupted, intimate connection time. It’s seriously deep foundation building moments that are forging lifelong intimacy, and bringing us to know each other’s hearts in ways we’ve never been known. This is the intimate upside to ‘grinding’…this is when putting in hard work, helps make life less difficult.

Secondly, Jill and I have been going through Recovery Step-Study at The Village for 13 weeks now. It’s basically “discipleship on steroids” (as Matt Chandler calls it), unpacking every area of your life, your heart, your past, and rebuilding from the pain, resentments, fears and sins of life, and Biblically applying a Gospel-infused version of the classic 12-step recovery program. Another tool that has been unbelievably powerful and healing for Jill and I, as well as incredibly revealing to us regarding the “why” behind things that we feel or think. There’s seriously no reason anyone should not go through this type of study. Some rounds we all need to grind.

In addition to becoming covenant members at The Village, Jill and I have also studied a ton of sermons and the related Bible teachings over this time as well. This is the intellectual part of the grind. Listen to teachers—people that know more—and let God speak to our lives through it. Grinding through podcasting & reading!

Lastly, from the moment I knew I was going to marry Jill (our first 5 hour phone conversation sometime in Oct of 07), I really felt like I was missing a piece of the counsel I needed in my life. I have the most incredible group of brothers (IRON!) that I’ve gone through life with over the past three, five, ten and fifteen years. Guys like my core, small group in LA (IRON!). Guys from LA, and from my fraternity and from the military that I call my “male soul mates” (IRON!). God’s also keeps bringing some really awesome friends into our lives here in Dallas as well. In addition to always having the loving, loyal counsel of my dear mom, dad and little brother Adam, I also have a few men that I count as my mentors. But they’re not geographically in my life, and far too busy for me to really be under their counsel at a deep level. I needed to go through marriage with other godly, older married men. Veterans of the faith, of raising kids, of finding the professional/life balance, and of walking through the seasons of married life. And Jill wanted the same for me, and for herself. God finally brought those folks into our life through a home-group at church that is just filled with the most amazing men and women, who have the most amazing marriages! There are a few elder-candidates for our church in the group, and we have the most junior marriage by at least 15 or 20 years! We are so, so thankful! What a blessing!

So, what does this all result in feeling like? This year has been nothing short of feeling like our souls have been given a glimpse of Heaven! I feel a love for Jill that is bigger and more rock-solid than all of the granite of the Rocky Mountains. I have my breath taken away every single day by Jill’s beauty, and the beautiful grace that she extends to me. Everything Jill does for me, and says to me gives me the freedom and encouragement to be the man that God designed me to be. In spite of all of the love and grace that God pours into my life through my amazing wife, every day I fall short, and every day I’m selfishly absorbed…and when I repent and ask forgiveness, Jill just loves me more. I am constantly poured into and encouraged by a wife that loves me beyond words, and beyond her own explanation. And this woman is my best friend, my confidant; she is the sexiest, most beautiful and funniest girl I have ever known! It is truly a remarkable place to be emotionally, as we have given each other the gifts of trust and trustworthiness, the gifts of hope and encouragement, and the gift of repentance and forgiveness. It’s so, so solid!

We disagree, we pray/work through it and grow. We get hurt, we pray/work through it and grow. We (and by we, I mean “I”) get grumpy, irritable and tired, we (I) pray/work through it and we grow. We have stress about bills, lawyers, the future, we pray, pray, pray and work through it and grow. We relapse into old fears, hurts or places of resentment, we pray/work through it and grow. We have constant challenges and teaching opportunities with the girls, we teach, pray through it and grow. This is what grinding looks like in our lives, and it is paying incredibly beautiful rewards to Jill and I through this season of our marriage!

Thank you Jill! I love you with all of me.

06 January 2009

My 2009 Goals

Whether we've known each for 18 years, or 18 days, you can probably see that I try to live my life pretty transparently. I do this for a multitude of reasons; I feel it's essential as a Christian to live/walk in light. I love technology, and web/mobile technologies create conversation, foster and build relationships and serve as a living record of a life lived. I feel it keeps me honest & accountable. Clearly, there are many marriage & family things that aren't shared--both victories and challenges--but for the most part, my life is pretty easy to know through technology. That is not to say that I am easy to "know" just because I use Twitter and Facebook...just ask Jill. I can be pretty complex.

Anyways, thought I would share with you all--for mutual accountability, encouragement & inspiration--my goals for 2009. I feel this is a holistic approach to life that is attainable, and reflects my real foundation...but would love everyone's thoughts.


I want 2009 to be one of the most transformative years of my life.

Strike that, I want 2009 to be the single-most transformative year of my life.

Ok, so 2008 may have beaten me into a bit into submission, but it was amazing. It was also the first year of my adult life that I had no new debt, so that's awesome.

This narrative will serve as the canvas upon which I write out the goals and objectives for the year.


- Read the New Testament
- Find a home group by end of January
- Join the Church after baptism
- Teach the girls every week from Kids Village Material
- Complete Recovery Step-study


- Two 'honeymoons' with Jill: CO for retreat with other marrieds.
- Get-away wknd every quarter
- 30 straight days
- Family movie night every week
- Florida game in Baton Rouge or LSU at Washington in Seattle or both
- Date night every week (even if it's a 'home' date night)
- Outdoor nights as a family 3 nights/week
- Read two marriage books together
- Attend a marriage conference wknd
- Go to Michigan as a family
- Call brothers, cousins, Mom & Dad weekly
- Call Aunt/Uncles, Grandparents, in-laws monthly


- Get to 190lb body-weight ASAP and maintain. (Goal: 1 March)
- Cardio 5 days/week
- Train or lift 3 days/week
- Run 10k race in March
- Run 1/2 marathon by 21 May
- Set weekly fitness schedule and maintain every week
- Fast & diet religiously. (be intentional about the fast, praying, praying, praying)
- Get back to 20+ pull-ups, and to 150 push-ups
- Half marathon in 1:40
- Diet: disciplined & fast weekdays. Free on Sat, Sun eat lighter, if not great.


- Tithe. Period.
- No new debt
- Move fully to Crown system; use envelopes.
- Reach $1,000 savings
- No missed/late bills
- Paydown monthly according to schedule.
- Repay Taylor & Brooke's savings


- Get hired into BD position by end of March.
- Finish SMU, Texas and Cornell-Queens MBA applications by 15 February
- Start MBA program in August
- Finish thejaredstill.com by end of February
- Start notaweso.me in January; update to manageable by end of February
- Post to SoldierWish.com blog 4x per week
- Update/merge SoldierWish blog by 15 January
- Hit all Raytheon process, gate, ICMS and CAST goals
- Miss zero suspenses for anything promised to customer/boss
- Find mentor, find mentoree.


- Contacts; phone, email, calendar, work, home, all synced and updated. (75% done)
- Calendar; capture all birthdays and important dates. Cards & flowers on major days
- Attention to detail. Sync financial obligations & expenses with calendar. (90% done)

12 December 2008

Connectivity in war

My buddy Oliver Grant (Maj, USA Reserve), whom I was deployed with in Iraq in 2004, sent me the article below this morning. It really brought home a lot of ways in which in my own deployment experience, the connectivity of email and cell phones made Iraq, circa 2004, so unique for me.

I was a Contracting Officer, supporting the CPA, the 1ID, Abu Ghraib for a time, and the DOE as they extracted nuclear waste from Iraq's Tuwaitha nuclear site, south of Baghdad...along with running a multitude of translator and security contracts in the Green Zone (static, Amb Bremmer's PSD, etc). Needless to say, in that operating environment, communication was an absolutely critical and indespnsible tool of the job. I had a cell-phone with a 703 number, based on a network set-up right after the occupation started by MCI, for US and military use. So we all literally called each other on DC area code phones, and likewise, any call from the States was standard long distance rates, regular cell minutes. We had (almost) constant email connectivity and web access (at least while I was in the Green Zone)...and we spent the better part of every day--from 0800 to midnight or later--in and out of the office in the Palace. Certainly this was not every soldier or airman's experience, but I was a contracting officer, managing big dollars, big projects with big customers...and always needed to be connected. My family could always reach me, including my little bro sending drunken text messages telling me about his night out on 4th Street in Tucson. This connectivity was a huge morale booster, but it also served to push feelings of desparation and helplessness in the times when my family would call or email with bad news, or tough times.

So while we were literally at the seat of power, and the epicenter of the global news cycle, and working with, arguing with, relaxing with and cavorting with the staffers, the movers & shakers and the entire 30-something idealists brigade that was behind the drafting of the Iraqi Constitution and the establishment of their democratic law...we could feel both overly connected, lonely, distant and central all at the same time. While the constant connectivity to the homefront was absolutely unique to war in all of human history, it was my experience, that just like so many of our brothers-in-arms before us, the real connectivity that was forged was lifelong bond, loyalty and brotherhood with those whom we served with.

This story below still makes for a really interesting read:

Jared Still

Christian Science Monitor
December 12, 2008
Pg. 4

A Letter From Bagram Air Base, Afghanistan

In Between The Fighting, Soldiers Also Battle Boredom

Technology offers troops in Afghanistan a respite, but some wonder if the tether is too short.

In decades past, going to war meant being out of touch with loved ones for months, even years. Today, soldiers can remain in almost constant contact with those at home.

It's the preferred method of distraction for many troops serving long deployments here in Afghanistan – sometimes to their detriment.

Each American base, big or small, has some version of the Morale Welfare Room, in which troops can surf the Web and check e-mail free of charge, make cheap phone calls back home, and pick up one of the pamphlets with titles such as "How to avoid arguments."

"Do NOT let him take the red car!" a furious sergeant – who seems to have given the pamphlets a pass – insists into the receiver to his wife in Texas. Yelling would get him thrown out of the room, so he grits his teeth and tries again. Their teenage son wants to pick up his girlfriend at the airport, and Dad, nearly 8,000 miles distant, is having none of it.

A few booths away, a staff sergeant chats with his wife, who waves into the video camera installed in their Florida home. "It's a lifeline for us," notes Sgt. T.J. Wadington.

But such constant communication, warns Capt. George Tyger, a chaplain at Kalagush Forward Operating Base, in Nuristan, can be complicated. "A lot of these guys are experiencing anger, loneliness, and even depression, but are young and can't express themselves well," he says. "Talking every day can be tough." Moreover, he points out, micromanaging life at home from such a distance "is not usually helpful to the spouse at home, and also diverts the attention of the soldiers, which is often dangerous."

Patrick Dean, an Air Force psychiatrist based in Jalalabad, agrees. "It's a double-edged sword: If you have distance, you can put your mind totally in the game and focus. But on other hand, being in touch with loved ones is a way to get support and validation."

Whether trying to stave off boredom, calm their nerves, or find distraction from the pinings for – or problems at – home, troops in Afghanistan are also finding plenty of other ways to entertain themselves during their long deployments.

Bagram, about 15 miles north of Kabul, sets the standard. Some 12,000 troops and 8,000 civilian contractors are stationed at the base, which resembles a fortified small town – complete with a Pizza Hut, a Dairy Queen, and a beauty salon. There are university extension classes, churches, mosques, and even traffic jams.

Jalalabad, a large Air Force base in the east, has three gyms and shops selling everything from contacts solution to flat-screen TVs. The base also hosts a weekly bazaar, where preapproved Afghan merchants sell fake Rolex watches and pirated DVDs of the latest Hollywood flicks. Friday night "Jalalabad Idol" singing competitions are the rage.

At the smaller bases closer to the front lines, entertainment is a more homespun affair. In Nuristan Province's Kalagush Forward Operating Base, for example, troops train for marathons by running around the helicopter landing pad (70 laps equals about a quarter of a race).

Saturdays feature "campfire night," where officers sit around a red flashlight and tell dirty jokes.

"It is important to keep your mind active," stresses Captain Tyger, who spends a good part of his days here hammering away on a climbing wall he is building.

"Time drags for me here. In Iraq, I was shot at 24/7 and time flew," says Sgt. Isaac Hibdon, a gunner on his first deployment here. "It's not that I want to be killed. Obviously. But the boredom is tough."

-- Danna Harman

I heart towers that bad guys hate

We love technology at SoldierWish and the Wishy company.

We hate bad guys at SoldierWish and the Wishy company.

So naturally, we're big fans of technologies that help our soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines put hot lead on bad dudes. We love when the lead-to-air ratio in a bad guy's home tips the survivability scale in the good guys favor.

Raytheon has been providing our Army with what is essentially 'listening posts' in theater for the last couple years. Infared sensors, video, and other 'sensor' and surveilance capabilities placed on top of the tower provide static, pervasive and constant eyes & ears for our operators forward in theater.

Raytheon delivers tower number 300 to the US Army.

In the interest of full disclosure, each of my pay-checks are signed & deposited by the Raytheon Company.

Iraq May Request and Need US Troops for 10 yrs

Once President Bush leaves office, will we have a less polarizing national discourse about the future of Iraq? Will we have a discussion about whether an occupying force, turned requested guest can stabilize a post-war region economically and politically as has been successfully modeled in Germany, Japan, Korea and Kosovo? Is that a politically viable role for the US military in Iraq? Given the resulting power-vacuum that a US withdrawal would present, is there any other choice?

We at SoldierWish are not afraid to ask tougher questions that directly impact the service and engagements of our military. Frankly speaking, "With a new administration, what will the course in Iraq be?"

Certainly the complex reality of the international diplomacy and the stabilizing weight of the American Global presence will dramatically soften Mr. Obama's "we must leave now" campaign season promises and declarations.

As one who has blogged repeatedly about my love for the Iraqi people, and the honor in serving in establishing their infant democracy, I personally welcome the stabilizing, and hopeful story that an Iraqi official acknowledges that a US presence could be needed for at least 10 years.

I know this sentiment flies in the face of current popular and accepted political discourse in the US, but I feel a stable, increasingly democratized Middle East, should be at the top of any administration's foreign policy. And the surest way to guarantee that is with the requested presence of the United States military, along side our Iraqi counterparts in training and patrolling. Just as the Japan and Germany model proved to be.

Jared Still