Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Torn

The problem was that Kirk was doing good work. He was doing vital, essential work - work that was literally saving lives and changing the world. Not many people get to do that sort of thing, make that sort of difference. He loved the challenge and the pressure, loved the chance to put his theories about information operations to work.

But there were other problems. The intelligence world is a strange place, a place where sources and information are impossibly valuable and are fiercely guarded - not just from the enemy without, but from other intelligence branches. CIA, DIA - all of those 'men in black' view eachother with deep suspicion. They do not, to put it mildly, play well with others.

And then there was the entrenched mindset, the very conservative status quo above Kirk. The people at that level had come into the intel world during the cold war, and their focus had never really changed. They were used to a particular kind of enemy - one that was established, codified, predictable; a known quantity with a home to protect. They were extremely good at dealing with this enemy, they knew it cold. But the new world, the world of Bin Laden was not like that, and they were slow to change. So Kirk was endlessly fighting against people who did not want to listen, people who firmly believed they knew everything.

I don't know how much of it was like that. I just know he hit wall after wall. Worse, I think he probably got a reputation for being a bit wild - for having crazy ideas. I'm just guessing, but from his frustration I think it's likely that certain people simply stopped listening to what he had to say.

So there he was, doing excellent work but in a way that made life nearly impossible. Because he was so successful he was being read into increasingly higher clearances - need-to-know only stuff, things only a handful of people would have access to. He was being drawn deeper and deeper into the counter-terrorism world, but wasn't being allowed to do what he felt he had to do. Eventually he realized he was completely caught. If he stayed in the Air Force he would be doing counter-terrorism for the rest of his career.

And we were at the decision point. Everyone in the military reaches that moment. If you sign up for one more tour you might as well stay in and collect your retirement; if you get out now you have time to make a new career for yourself. Kirk had his time in the army as an enlisted linguist, he had half-time credit for being in the ROTC, and he had his tours in Alaska and Virginia. If he stayed now, he was going to do this for the next ten years.

He loved the Air Force. He loved everything about it. And now he felt that he had no choice. He had to leave.

2 comments:

Jezzie said...

ok...I have seenyour comments on blurb for some time now, and alawys kinda wondered about your tagline...now, today, I come over from Jon's site after your comment there and I am just...blown away. I just want to say if this isn't oneof the most read blogs onthe web it should be. How I wish I could climb to the top of the internet and holler down to all the little folks who can't seem to personalize this war beyond their rabid version of political loyalty "read this woman's blog!" Well, i will read it, and share it, and while I do not curently blog, if you would care to correspond my email address is q.t_pi@hotmail.com, and iam a single mom with 2 kids who's father, and uncles, and fathers fathers fathers have paticipated in every war since the inception of this country, and I share you outlook! on life..Jessica

For Kirk said...

Thanks for the kind words. Deciding to write these stories - to make them public - was extremely hard. Having people respond... means a huge amount. - M