Whenever we conduct a training event in the Army it is always followed by an After Action Review, or AAR. So here is my AAR on the Danny Fontana radio interview I did on Friday.
Overall I think the interview went well. I was extremely nervous at the beginning, but Danny was a gracious host and I got the heart palpitations under control after about the first minute. I felt like I was calm, cool, articulate, and all those things you need to be when doing an interview. Of course, I could be totally wrong and the radio prodcuer may have been reeling in the background and sending notes to the host to cut it short and get me off the air. The whole thing lasted about ten minutes.
Here are some of the topics of discussion we covered:
Q: What is the general morale of the troops?
A: I have commented before on how complaining in the Army is an art. If a soldier isn't complaining, there is probably something wrong. But the overall morale of the troops on the ground is high and it is because they know they are making a difference. The American public only sees the bad news, which is a very small part of what happens here on a daily basis. The soldier is able to see the other 98% of what is happening; the schools being built, the infrastructure being repaired, and the Iraqi people taking back control of their country.
Q: Are we making significant progress?
A: Yes! My unit alone has helped to restore dozens of schools, provided medical aid to local communities, and provided school supplies to local children. Those children are Iraq's future leaders.
Q: Do I feel safe doing my job?
A: I think we all go through phases over here. When we first got into country, I and a lot of other people were pretty nervous. You're coming into a nefarious situation and you don't know what to expect. After being here for a while you just deal with it. You know there is an enemy that is watching, waiting, and looking for just the right opportunity to bring you harm. You do everything you can to mitigate against it and ensure he fails miserably. You just deal with it.
Q: Do you feel like we have won the war?
A: It depends on how you define "won". I'm trying to invoke the phraseology of a certain past President by being evasive, but I see this war in phases. Phase one was getting rid of Saddam and his cronies. We won that phase hands-down, and it was a good ole' American butt whoop'n. Phase two is a bit more nebulous, but I define it as handing control of this country back to the people it belongs to. I do not believe we can defeat every insurgent any more than we can eradicate every criminal in our own nation. But we can leave this nation and its government in a position where they can deal with it themselves. Obviously we have not obtained the objective in this Phase, but we are making progress and we will succeed. Too many American lives have been shed here to accept anything less.
Again, I felt the interview went well. I once did a television spot on the Home Shopping Network as part of my job at Dell, and I can safely say that I enjoy radio much better. It's not nearly as nerve wracking since there aren't a bunch of cameras pointing at you along with monitors that allow you to watch yourself go down in flames. Besides, I've been told I have a face for radio.