Soldier's Diary: Soldiers Get Values Training in Iraq

Editor's note: U.S. Army Capt. Dan Sukman is serving a one-year deployment to Iraq. For previous entries and his bio, see the Soldier's Diary archives.

June 5, 2006

Not much to write about today so I will discuss the weather. It's hot. We have put up aluminum foil on our windows to reflect the heat coming from the sun. Kellogg Brown and Root, the company responsible for performing maintenance on the air conditioners on post, have reportedly had to fix over 100 AC units over the past 24 hours. The sun is up and burning for most of the day, you wake up early at about 0530, walk out to shave and the hair dryer effect is in full force. It's almost the summer solstice, so the sun is out heating the air until nearly 2100.

When the soldiers in my company perform maintenance on their trucks prior to and after missions, they wear gloves so they don't burn their hands on the metal tools. They leave the FOB [forward operating base] with a case full of ice that will melt halfway through the mission.

Our tents and offices have air conditioning, our Porta-Johns do not. The expression "I'm going to the sauna" has replaced, "I'm taking a latrine break."

Without a doubt, the most impressive part of the heat is the ability of our soldiers to adapt to it, and to overcome it. It's not easy to adjust to the heat and you don't get used to it like you do when jumping into a cold pool. Wearing 50 pounds of equipment and body armor, it's only that much harder.

Again and again, the ability of our soldiers to deal with these conditions with the continued willingness to complete any assigned mission never ceases to amaze me.

June 6, 2006

Corps value ethics training was conducted today. I saw the headline in Stars and Stripes last week that the corps commander in Iraq was directing the training; today the battalion commander conducted training with his company commanders. The training was in a classroom-type setting, PowerPoint Slides, and a lot of discussion on ethics and decision making in combat.

Click here to read more about ethics training for the troops in Iraq.

Throughout the next two weeks, we will be conducting the training with the soldiers in the company. Over the next couple of weeks, I will be ensuring that every soldier in my company gets the same brief and topics of discussion.

Ethics training is nothing new to us. We consistently receive the training in garrison, and had more classes prior to the deployment. Today it was a commanders' meeting. Any time you get commanders together to discuss ethics and values in combat, it's going to be a worthwhile discussion, and today's talk was a perfect example.

We discussed the values that all soldiers live by. Without getting into detail, there are seven. We know them, memorize them, and even carry them around our necks along with our ID tags. We discussed that the American soldier's values should represent those of his or her country, and nothing less should be tolerated.

The most interesting part of the conversation is when we discussed how our values relate to Iraqi values. One of the hardest aspects to get over and understand in the Middle East is the role of the family. We talked about how American society is based on laws, and the rule of law is how we base our actions. Individuals are held responsible for their actions. Over here, it is the family, and to an extent the tribe that is held in the highest regard, and in turn who is responsible for actions of individuals. Once you understand that, you can see just how difficult the job here can be.

E-mail Captain Dan at Click here to read his bio.