Tuesday, March 20, 2007

A Soldier's OnlineChat with Aftonbladt 3/20/07

This interview is of a soldier involved and representing 'us' as he answered questions from Swedes.
Thanks to MalmoBlue of DemocracyInteractive chat for the link and translation of the article opening from 'Aftonblodet' translated as The Evening Sheet .

Rick Selvester
: Hello, you can start asking now!

johannes : how long have you been a soldier?

Rick Selvester : I've been in the US Army for 8 years.

ANT : For howe long are you in Irak?

Rick Selvester : Im here for a one year deployment. And I'm six months into it, got six months left.

Linnéa säger: What are the worst things about beeing in Iraq? Except for that you miss your family.

Rick Selvester : The loss of friends is a big one, to see them die. And the living conditions of the Iraqi people. And the poverty level.

John : What's the most dramatic thing that has happened to you in Iraq?

Rick Selvester : That's a hard one. There's a lot of options. People getting killed. We lost a really good guy, a happy guy. He was killed in December in Falluja.

Olle J : Hi Rick, I just wanna ask you if you think the US presence in Irak is making the iraki people safer, and what do you think will happen if your troops leave?

Rick Selvester : I absolutely believe we are making it safer for them. If we pull out now, there will be a civil war. I just think we should stay here until they are stronger as a people. The people need to come together as iraqis.

Filip : Aren't you afraid to die each day?

Rick Selvester : Yes. If you're not afraid to die, you're crazy. You just get used to it.

Vlado : What do u think of George Bush? Is he a good president?

Rick Selvester : He is my commander in chief, so I automatically approve of what he says.

Catrin : If you had the economic means to go to college at the age of 18 would you still have enlisted as a soldier?

Rick Selvester : No. I would have gone to college.

Erik : Now, 4 years from the invasion, do you believe invading Iraq was the right thing to do? Were there any other options at your disposal that would've been better to use?

Rick Selvester : It's a great question - and a big question. Personally, no, I don't think it was the right thing to do. But I hear the people where I'm stationed at here in Iraq are happy that we are here. And hearing that every day changes my mind a little bit. I'm glad we came.

johan : Hi Rick!
Was the military service in Iraq as you'd expected, or was something totally different?

Rick Selvester : No, I expected it. I've been to Afghanistan twice, so I knew what the deal was gonna be.

Kanga : Alot of people in the world today thinks USA is automatically putting themselfs as THE nr 1 country. What do you think gives US the right of acting as a "world police"?

Rick Selvester : I belive somebody has to do it. In the big picture. To me as a soldier, we are here because a tyrant was causing terror. But I do belive we put our fingers in others peoples business too much. We intrude in others peoples business too much, we have worries of our own in the US and should concentrate on that.

isabelle : what would you like to do when you get home - continue as a soldier?

Rick Selvester : I have a few more years on my contract, so I'm gonna be a soldier for a while. But then I'm gonna start a family with my wife. I have two children and I would like to have another one. And I'm gonna go to college.

jb : what do you know about sweden?

Rick Selvester : I knew very little about Sweden. To be polite, I went on the internet last night. And wow, you have a tough language. But I know one word now, "hej", and I know the name of your king, and I know you have only 9 million people. And I know you love your country.

Johan : I've heard that it's been complains about the equipments that you use in Iraq, do you agree with that?

Rick Selvester : I complain about my equipent a lot. But I can't talk for anyone else. But we have amazing equipment really, very advanced. One very useful thing is the body armour we have. It's heavy but it's saved a lot of lives. The only thing is it's heavy.

Danny : What are mainly the reactions you meet from the civilian population?

Rick Selvester : Appreciation. The people in my area, where I operate, really like us a lot. Especially the children.

Joakim : What weapon du you have??

Rick Selvester : I have a standard issue M4. And a pistol, US military 9 mm.

Caroline : Have you yourself killed anybody, or have you seen anybody get killed?

Rick Selvester : I skip the first one, but the second: Yes. I've had my fair share.

Pelle : Is Iraq going to be a better and safer place for its people in three months time?

Rick Selvester : No, three months is a short time. I don't belive so.

Jonky88 : For how much longer do you personally think that U.S will stay in Iraq?

Rick Selvester : The way things are going right now in the press, it looks like maybe a year. But I hope we won't be here much longer.

J-dog : Have your views on the army and war in general changed since you joined the army as an 18-year old?

Rick Selvester : No. This is a different type of war, not a conventional war. The enemy does not wear uniform, so that makes it really difficult for us. And war might be scary, but it's extremely exciting.

gontish : are you in combat everyday?

Rick Selvester : No. I've only had a few encounters since I've came. Mostly it's policework. We don't really see much insurgency on a daily basis. It comes in like squirts. It's random.

Chris : which is your favorite weapon?

Rick Selvester : Wow... ouch... The 50 caliber. It's a machine gun. And I like my 9 mm, because it's small and handy.

Christopher : Hi Rick! How is the weather down there right now? Keep up the good work!!

Rick Selvester : Thank you. And the weather is beautiful. It gorgeous here, not hot, not cold, doesn't rain a lot. I love the weather right now.

Litzooth : what do you do when you're not in combat?

Rick Selvester : I lift weights and go to the gym - and play video games. That's pretty much it. There isn't that much to do.

mike : How do you communicate with your family?

Rick Selvester : They have really great phones AT&T-phones. And I use the internet, we send e-mails.

Penny : How many girls is it in Iraq from USA?

Rick Selvester : I cant speak for any other place than where I am, and here we have only a few female soldiers. Less than a dozen.

avqto : You see the war for real, do you think it's helping the Iraks? Do you think you do the rigth thing?

Rick Selvester : I think we are giving the iraqis a chance that they never had before. We are giving them the opportunity to be free, and freedom is the greatest thing you can have. And we are giving them the chance of that.

Moderator : And that's the last question... Thank you Rick, and everybody who participated and asked questions.

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