Saturday, October 08, 2005


Education is easy to take for granted. If I've said it once, I've said it a hundred times, if I had it to do over again I wouldn't go to college. To me it has turned out that the education I gained was not NEAR worth the cost for what I do for a living. I'm always reminded of the line in Good Will Hunting about being able to get the same knowledge for $1.50 in late fees from the public library.

Having said that, it isn't true worldwide. It's something rather obvious that is often overlooked when you look at places in the world where the first question that leaps to mind is, "What the fuck?" (The second being, "Seriously, what the fucking fuck?")

Iraq is one of those places. It is a third-world nation. Or in this case, the euphemism "developing nation" is actually appropriate. This is something that we tend to forget in our expectations. Major K, who is over there, does a great job of illustrating why this is an important point to remember.
In the USA, we take literacy for granted. Here it is a mark of distinction. A bachelor's degree here carries the same clout as a PhD in the USA. US Officers are required to have a bachelor's and US Colonels have at least a Master's Degree. Here, a high school diploma is the bar over which you must pass to become an officer.

I spent some time today showing an Iraqi Lieutenant Colonel how to transfer a file from one computer to another using a flash memory stick and then how to send an e-mail. I have been using e-mail for over 10 years. Teaching staff officers how to do elementary computer work is almost a daily occurrence here. All of this being said, Iraq has one of the most educated populations in the region, so you can easily imagine what it is like in other countries in the middle east.

This educational deficit is going to be one of the big hurdles to overcome in rebuilding this benighted nation. This is why we soldiers consider rebuilding of schools and opening of new ones such a big deal. This is truly a war for the next generation being fought by this generation. We work with what we have for now, and we try to progress every day. It will be slow and gradual. Today must not be compared to yesterday, but better the next decade to this one.

Go read the whole thing. And thank the guy for doing this incredibly difficult job on our behalf.