The Education of War

by Paul Steward

"War is God's way of teaching Americans geography."
Ambrose Bierce (1842-1914)

You have to admit, there is nothing like a good war to help you brush-up on your world geography, and bring you up to date on the latest in warfare science. I bet there isn't a high school student or adult alive today that couldn't open up a map now and find Afghanistan. Heck, I bet most could even spell it correctly.

Geography class has never been so popular. Look at the places we're learning about: Kabul, Mazar-e-Sharif, Khanabad, Jalalabad, and Kandahar just to name a few. Great names - they all sound so mystical.

Up until September I'd never heard of these places. I'd never heard of the Taliban, the Northern Alliance, or al-Qaeda either. Look at all we're learning! My history teacher would be proud. Try and find a book about the Middle East in a library now. They can't keep these books on the shelves.

The government needs a war every now and then to try out all its new weapons and gear. War does bring out the best in technology. Nothing beats the sight of an M1A2 Abrams tank speeding across the sand with guns firing.

We have a whole host of cool aircraft to watch streaking across the desert sky, all made for one purpose. In the bomber department we have the B1-B Lancer, B-2 Spirit, and the good 'ol B-52 Stratofortresses. For fighters we have the F-14 Tomcat, F-15E Strike Eagle, F-15C Eagle, F-16 Fighting Falcon, FA-18 Hornet, and the AC-130H/U Gunship. For surveillance we have the E-2 Hawkeye, E-3 Sentry (AWACS), E-8C Joint Stars, EA-6 Prowler, U-2, and the S-3 Viking.

My favorites are the helicopters with the HH-60G Pave Hawk, SH-60 Seahawk, AH-64D Apache, and the UH-60 Blackhawk. Let's not forget the cargo planes and tankers. We have the C-2 Greyhound, C-17 Globemaster III, C-130 Hercules, and the KC-135 Stratotanker. We even have unmanned spy drones with names like Global Hawk and Predator flying around that can drop bombs.

Speaking of bombs, how about those GBU-28 Bunker Buster bombs that can penetrate 20 feet into the ground and then explode. Cool huh! We have a whole new array of "smart" bombs and missiles guided by lasers and satellites, guaranteed to land only on the enemy. And how about the "improved" 15,000-pound BLU-82 we've been dropping over there. Nicknamed the Daisy Cutter, it's the largest non-nuclear bomb in our arsenal. Where else are you going to test these suckers except in a war? There are only so many atolls left. Maybe we could drop a few on Mount Everest and make it a bit easier to get to the top.

Every war needs a bad guy. Remember Adolf Hitler, the Ayatollah Khomeini, Mohammar Qaddafi, Saddam Hussein? Now we have Osama bin Laden. Hey, wasn't he on our side a few years ago? The war is giving newspapers, magazines, and television tons of material. It sure beats the O. J. trial.

I can't wait till my next geography lesson. I don't know much about the countries in Africa. Maybe we can have a war there.

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