I felt like Ernie Anastos after he told the weatherman to "Keep fucking that chicken" during a live broadcast. Externally I had to just keep smiling through, while inside my mind was screaming that whatever madness had just passed my lips had the potential to devastate all that I held dear. And all I had said was, “Yes, sir.”
Rather than further contemplate this horror, however, I snapped a salute to Lt. Gen. William Caldwell, spun on my heels, and exited his tent into the smothering Afghani heat. Until now, I had barely seen the general, let alone spoken with him. All orders passed from Caldwell to Lt. Colonel Michael Holmes, my CO, and then down to me. But it seemed that the general and the colonel weren’t seeing eye to eye lately, so Caldwell had sought me out as a potential ally in his private campaign.
"Operation Four Star," Holmes had derisively nicknamed it. Caldwell wanted to use our psyops team against visiting Congress members to prop up flagging support for the war. There was no threat Congress would move to actually end the occupation, but attention would shift back to Iraq, the boys in Baghdad would start getting all the headlines and funding increases, and the next thing you know our $20 billion-a-year air-conditioning budget would be slashed.
It'd take three or four years before Iraq would start feeling hopeless again, the press would start screaming about the great Taliban threat, and we would get our AC back. Nope, that wouldn't do at all; the generals, with their promotions depending on AfPak s continued prominence, were not going to lose this pissing contest, even if it meant some Senators needed a little light brainwashing. And I'd just agreed to help with the scrubbing.